United States District Court, D. Nevada
RICHARD F. BOULWARE, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Tea Cisneros-Dysthe's Motion for
Remand, ECF No. 17, and Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill's
Cross-Motion to Affirm, ECF No. 18.
reasons discussed below, the Court finds that the ALJ's
decision contains no legal error and is supported by
substantial evidence. Therefore, the Court denies
Plaintiff's Motion for Remand and grants Defendant's
Cross-Motion to Affirm.
October 22, 2013, Plaintiff completed an application for
disability insurance benefits alleging disability since April
1, 2003. AR 114. Plaintiff was denied initially and upon
administrative reconsideration. AR 150-53, 157-59. Plaintiff
requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) and appeared on December 1, 2015. AR 43.
At the hearing, Plaintiff amended her alleged disability
onset date to December 23, 2011. AR 43, 85-86. In an opinion
dated January 21, 2016, ALJ Berry Jenkins found Plaintiff not
disabled. AR 43-54. The Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review on June 5, 2017, rendering
the ALJ's decision final. AR 1-7.
followed the five-step sequential evaluation process for
determining Social Security disability claims set forth at 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). At step one, that ALJ found
that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since October 22, 2013, the application date. AR 45.
At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the following
severe impairments: obesity, dysfunction of major joints,
lupus, depression, anxiety, personality disorder,
fibromyalgia, and Sjogren's syndrome. AR 45. At step
three, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's impairments do not
meet or medically equal a listed impairment. AR 45-48.
found that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform light work with the following
limitations: she can never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds,
but can perform all other postural activities occasionally;
she must avoid concentrated exposure to hazardous machinery,
unprotected heights and operational control of moving
machinery; and she is limited to simple tasks typical of
unskilled occupations with no production rate pace work. AR
on this RFC, the ALJ found at step four that Plaintiff was
unable to perform her past relevant work as a general office
clerk. AR 52. At the last step, the ALJ determined based on
the vocational expert's testimony that Plaintiff can
perform a significant number of jobs in the national economy.
AR 53-54. Therefore, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff is not
disabled. AR 54.
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)) (quotation
the evidence can reasonably support either affirming or
reversing a decision, [a reviewing court] may not substitute
[its] judgment for that of the Commissioner.”
Lingenfelter, 504 F.3d at 1035. Nevertheless, the
Court may not simply affirm by selecting a subset of the
evidence supporting the ALJ's conclusion, nor can the
Court affirm on a ground on which the ALJ did not rely.
Garrison, 759 F.3d at 1009-10. Rather, the Court
must “review the administrative record as a whole,
weighing both the evidence that supports and that which
detracts from the ALJ's conclusion, ” to determine
whether that conclusion is supported by substantial evidence.
Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir.
ALJ is responsible for determining credibility, resolving
conflicts in medical testimony, and for resolving
ambiguities.” Id. When determining the
credibility of a claimant's testimony, the ALJ engages in
a two-step analysis. Garrison, 759 F.3d at 1014-15.
First, the claimant must have presented objective medical
evidence of an underlying impairment “which could
reasonably be expected to produce the pain or other symptoms
alleged.” Lingenfelter, 504 F.3d at 1035-36
(quoting Bunnell v. Sullivan, 947 F.2d 341, 344 (9th
Cir. 1991)). The claimant does not need to produce evidence
of the symptoms alleged or their severity, but she must show
the impairments could reasonably cause some degree of the
symptoms. Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1282 (9th
Cir. 1996). Second, the ALJ determines the credibility of the
claimant's testimony regarding the severity of her
symptoms. Garrison at 1014-15. Unless affirmative
evidence supports a finding of malingering, the ALJ may only
reject the claimant's testimony by providing
“specific findings as to credibility and stating clear
and convincing reasons for each.” Robbins v. Soc.
Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 883 (9th Cir. 2006).
Social Security Act has established a five-step sequential
evaluation procedure for determining Social Security
disability claims. See 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4); Garrison, 759 F.3d at 1010.
“The burden of proof is on the claimant at steps one
through four, but shifts to the Commissioner at step
five.” Garrison, 759 F.3d at 1011. Here, the
ALJ resolved Plaintiff's claim at step five. At step
five, the ALJ determines based on the claimant's RFC