United States District Court, D. Nevada
JAMIA M. GEER, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
M. Navarro, Chief Judge United States District Judge.
before the Court is the Motion to Remand, (ECF No. 29), filed
by Plaintiff Jamia M. Geer
(“Plaintiff”) and the Cross-Motion to Affirm, (ECF
No. 33), filed by Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill
(“Defendant” or “the Commissioner”).
These motions were referred to the Honorable Nancy J. Koppe,
United States Magistrate Judge, for a report of findings and
recommendations pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
636(b)(1)(B) and (C). In the Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”), (ECF No. 41), Judge Koppe
recommended that Plaintiff's Motion to Remand be denied.
Plaintiff filed an Objection, (ECF No. 46), and the
Commissioner did not file a response.
brings this action against Defendant in her capacity as the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, pursuant
to the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Compl.,
ECF No. 3). Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration denying her claims for social security
disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security
Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 401-403. (Id. ¶ 9).
applied for both disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income on July 6, 2010, which were
denied initially, upon reconsideration, and after a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).
(R&R 5:12-27, ECF No. 41). Plaintiff timely requested
Appeals Council review of the ALJ's decision, which was
granted on April 15, 2013, and remanded to the ALJ for
further proceedings. (Id.). On April 24, 2014, after
conducting a second hearing, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's
claim. (Id.). This decision became final after the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for a second
review. (Id.). On March 31, 2016, Plaintiff filed
her Complaint in this Court.
Objections to a Magistrate Judge's Findings and
party may file specific written objections to the findings
and recommendations of a United States Magistrate Judge made
pursuant to Local Rule IB 1-4. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B);
D. Nev. Local R. IB 3-2. Upon the filing of such objections,
the Court must make a de novo determination of those
portions of the Recommendation to which objections are made.
Id. The 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); D. Nev. Local
R. IB 3-2(b).
Judicial Review of the Commissioner's Disability
U.S.C. § 405(g) provides for judicial review of the
Commissioner's disability determinations and authorizes
district courts to enter “a judgment affirming,
modifying, or reversing the decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security, with or without remanding the cause for a
rehearing.” In undertaking that review, an ALJ's
“disability determination should be upheld unless it
contains legal error or is not supported by substantial
evidence.” Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995,
1009 (9th Cir. 2014) (citation omitted). “Substantial
evidence means more than a mere scintilla, but less than a
preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable
person might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id. (quoting Lingenfelter v.
Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007)).
the substantial evidence test, a court must uphold the
Commissioner's findings if they are supported by
inferences reasonably drawn from the record. Batson v.
Comm'r, Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th
Cir. 2003). When the evidence supports more than one rational
interpretation, the Court must defer to the
Commissioner's interpretation. Burch v.
Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005).
Consequently, the issue before this Court is not whether the
Commissioner could reasonably have reached a different
conclusion, but whether substantial evidence supports the
argues, inter alia, that the Court should reject the
R&R and remand the case because the ALJ failed to
articulate legally sufficient reasons for discounting
Plaintiff's testimony. (See Obj. 6:3-10:28, ECF
No. 46). In assessing the credibility of a claimant's
testimony regarding subjective pain or the intensity of
symptoms, the ALJ engages in a two-step analysis. Vasquez
v. Astrue, 572 F.3d 586, 591 (9th Cir. 2009). First, the
ALJ must determine whether there is “objective medical
evidence of an underlying impairment which could reasonably
be expected to produce the pain or other symptoms
alleged.” Id. (quoting Lingenfelter v.
Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1036 (9th Cir. 2007)). If the
claimant has presented such evidence, and there is no
evidence of malingering, ...