United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honorable Lynnette C. Kimmins United States Magistrate Judge.
Richard Carroll filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) seeking judicial review of a final decision by
the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner). (Doc. 1.)
Before the Court are Carroll's Opening Brief,
Defendant's Responsive Brief, and Carroll's Reply.
(Docs. 17, 18, 19.) The parties have consented to Magistrate
Judge jurisdiction. (Doc. 13.) Based on the pleadings and the
administrative record submitted to the Court, the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB)
and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on November 29, 2011.
(Administrative Record (AR) 201, 205.) He alleged disability
from November 18, 2010. (AR 40.) Carroll's application
was denied upon initial review (AR 65-104) and on
reconsideration (AR 105-50). A hearing was held on January
23, 2014 (AR 36-64), after which the ALJ found that Carroll
was not disabled because he could perform other work
available in the national economy (AR 16-26). The Appeals
Council denied Carroll's request to review the ALJ's
decision. (AR 1.)
was born on November 4, 1967, making him 43 years of age at
the onset date of his alleged disability. (AR 201.) Carroll
has past experience working in construction and as a bouncer
at a bar. (AR 226, 244.) He stopped working in 2006, after an
found Carroll had two severe impairments, degenerative disc
disease and left shoulder pain. (AR 18.) The ALJ determined
Carroll has the RFC to perform light work but can only reach
overhead occasionally with his left arm. (AR 20.) The ALJ
concluded at Step Five, based on the Medical-Vocational
Guidelines, that Carroll could perform work that exists in
significant numbers in the national economy. (AR 25.)
Commissioner employs a five-step sequential process to
evaluate SSI and DIB claims. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520;
416.920; see also Heckler v. Campbell, 461 U.S. 458,
460-462 (1983). To establish disability the claimant bears
the burden of showing he (1) is not working; (2) has a severe
physical or mental impairment; (3) the impairment meets or
equals the requirements of a listed impairment; and (4)
claimant's RFC precludes him from performing his past
work. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4).
At Step Five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show
that the claimant has the RFC to perform other work that
exists in substantial numbers in the national economy.
Hoopai v. Astrue, 499 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir.
2007). If the Commissioner conclusively finds the claimant
“disabled” or “not disabled” at any
point in the five-step process, she does not proceed to the
next step. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4),
ALJ is responsible for determining credibility, resolving
conflicts in medical testimony, and for resolving
ambiguities.” Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d
1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 1995) (citing Magallanes v.
Bowen, 881 F.2d 747, 750 (9th Cir. 1989)). The findings
of the Commissioner are meant to be conclusive if supported
by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Substantial
evidence is “more than a mere scintilla but less than a
preponderance.” Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d
1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999) (quoting Matney v.
Sullivan, 981 F.2d 1016, 1018 (9th Cir. 1992)). The
court may overturn the decision to deny benefits only
“when the ALJ's findings are based on legal error
or are not supported by substantial evidence in the record as
a whole.” Aukland v. Massanari, 257 F.3d 1033,
1035 (9th Cir. 2001). This is so because the ALJ “and
not the reviewing court must resolve conflicts in the
evidence, and if the evidence can support either outcome, the
court may not substitute its judgment for that of the
ALJ.” Matney, 981 F.2d at 1019 (quoting
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 400 (1971));
Batson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d
1190, 1198 (9th Cir. 2004). The Commissioner's decision,
however, “cannot be affirmed simply by isolating a
specific quantum of supporting evidence.” Sousa v.
Callahan, 143 F.3d 1240, 1243 (9th Cir. 1998) (citing
Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir.
1989)). Reviewing courts must consider the evidence that
supports as well as detracts from the Commissioner's
conclusion. Day v. Weinberger, 522 F.2d 1154, 1156
(9th Cir. 1975).
argues the ALJ committed four errors: (1) she ignored
substantial evidence of Carroll's impairments and
limitations; (2) she improperly weighed his activities of
daily living; (3) she improperly imposed her own medical
opinions; and (4) she failed to develop the record.
Two, the ALJ determined that Carroll had two severe
impairments: degenerative disc disease and left shoulder
pain. (AR 18.) A finding of disability requires an
“inability to do any substantial gainful activity by
reason of any medically determinable physical or mental
impairment.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1505. A physical or
mental impairment must last or be expected to last for 12 or
more months and must be “established by medical
evidence consisting of signs, symptoms, and laboratory
findings, not only by your statement of symptoms.” 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1508, ...