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Garcia v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Nevada

October 5, 2017

MICHAEL A. GARCIA, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER REGARDING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF MAGISTRATE JUDGE CARL W. HOFFMAN

          MIRANDA M. DU UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. SUMMARY

         Before the Court is the Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) of United States Magistrate Judge Carl W. Hoffman (ECF No. 20) regarding Plaintiff Michael A. Garcia's (“Garcia”) Motion to Remand to Social Security Administration (“Motion to Remand”) (ECF No. 14) and Defendant Commissioner Carolyn Colvin's Cross-Motion to Affirm (“Cross-Motion”) (ECF No. 17). The Court has reviewed Plaintiff's objection to the R&R (ECF No. 21) and Defendant's response (ECF No. 22). The Court has also reviewed the administrative record[1] filed by the Commissioner. (ECF No. 12.)

         For the following reasons, the Court accepts and adopts the R&R in full.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Michael A. Garcia filed for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act on September 1, 2009. (ECF No. 14 at 3.) Plaintiff's application was denied on September 21, 2011, and then denied again upon reconsideration on June 15, 2012. (Id.) The denial was affirmed by an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) at a hearing on September 27, 2013, and review was denied by the Appeals Council on December 9, 2014. (Id.) Garcia then sought review from this Court.

         The Magistrate Judge found that the ALJ properly considered various aspects of Plaintiff's case and provided specific, clear and convincing reasons as to why Plaintiff's testimony regarding his disability was not fully credible. (ECF No. 20 at 8.) Accordingly, the Magistrate Judge recommends that Plaintiff's Motion to Remand be denied and that Defendant's Cross-Motion be granted. (Id.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         This Court “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). Where a party timely objects to a magistrate judge's report and recommendation, then the court is required to “make a de novo determination of those portions of the [report and recommendation] to which objection is made.” Id.

         Congress has provided a limited scope of judicial review of the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits under the Social Security Act. In reviewing findings of fact, the Court must determine whether the decision of the Commissioner is supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). “Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Gutierrez v. Comm'r Soc. Sec., 740 F.3d 519, 522-23 (9th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The Court must consider the entire record as a whole to determine whether substantial evidence exists, and it must consider evidence that both supports and undermines the ALJ's decision. Id. at 523 (citation omitted). In weighing the evidence and making findings, the Commissioner must also apply the proper legal standards. Id. (citing Bray v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 554 F.3d 1219, 1222 (9th Cir. 2009) and Benton v. Barnhart, 331 F.3d 1030, 1035 (9th Cir. 2003)).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         The Court agrees with the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to deny Garcia's Motion to Remand and to grant the Commissioner's Cross-Motion.[2] The ALJ based denial of Garcia's SSDI benefits on substantial evidence from the record and gave specific, clear and convincing reasons for his finding that Garcia was less than credible.

         A. Denial of SSDI Benefits

         The Magistrate Judge recommends upholding the Commissioner's decision to deny Garcia's claim for benefits. In Garcia's objection to the R&R, he contends that the ALJ failed to articulate specific, clear and convincing reasons for rejecting Garcia's pain and limitation testimony. (ECF No. 21 at 4.) He argues that the ALJ did not base his decision on the record as a whole, instead focusing on a handful of evidence, and did not identify specific testimony that he found to be not credible or explain why it was not credible. (Id.) ...


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