United States District Court, D. Arizona
A. Teilborg Senior United States District Judge
before the Court is Plaintiff's appeal of the denial of
her application for social security disability benefits by
Standard of Review
decision of Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) to
deny benefits will be overturned “only if it is not
supported by substantial evidence or is based on legal
error.” Magallanes v. Bowen, 881 F.2d 747, 750
(9th Cir. 1989) (quotation omitted). “Substantial
evidence” means more than a mere scintilla, but less
than a preponderance. Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d
715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998).
inquiry here is whether the record, read as a whole, yields
such evidence as would allow a reasonable mind to accept the
conclusions reached by the ALJ.” Gallant v.
Heckler, 753 F.2d 1450, 1453 (9th Cir. 1984) (citation
omitted). In determining whether there is substantial
evidence to support a decision, the Court considers the
record as a whole, weighing both the evidence that supports
the ALJ's conclusions and the evidence that detracts from
the ALJ's conclusions. Reddick, 157 F.3d at 720.
“Where evidence is susceptible of more than one
rational interpretation, it is the ALJ's conclusion which
must be upheld; and in reaching his findings, the ALJ is
entitled to draw inferences logically flowing from the
evidence.” Gallant, 753 F.2d at 1453
(citations omitted); see Batson v. Comm'r of the Soc.
Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004). This
is because “[t]he trier of fact 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 v. Sullivan, 981 F.2d 1016, 1019 (9th Cir.
1992); see also Young v. Sullivan, 911 F.2d 180, 184
(9th Cir. 1990).
Issues on Appeal
appeal, Plaintiff raises three claims of error: 1) ALJ erred
in concluding Plaintiff could perform her past work; 2) the
ALJ erred in not crediting Plaintiff's treating
physicians; and 3) the ALJ erred in not crediting
Plaintiff's symptom testimony. Although in the opening
brief Plaintiff pursues all three claims of error, in her
reply brief, she relies only on the first theory.
Plaintiff's past work
Plaintiff's first claim of error - that the ALJ erred in
concluding that Plaintiff could perform her past work -
Defendant concedes error. (Doc. 18 at 3). However, Defendant
argues that the error was harmless. (Id.).
the ALJ found that:
The record indicated that the claimant worked as a
cashier/checker from June of 1997 until January of 2000, and
the claimant worked as a garment sorter from January of 2003
until April of 2003. The record also indicated that the
claimant received income at substantial gainful activity
level at these positions.
(Doc. 13-3 at 17).
undisputed facts on appeal are that, from 1997-2000,
Plaintiff worked as a meat packer, not as a cashier. (Doc. 19
at 3). Plaintiff argues, and Defendant does not dispute, that
the cashier position would be light work, at level 3, and the
meat packer position would be medium work, at level 2. (Doc.
16 at 25). Further, while Plaintiff did work as a garment
sorter from January 2003 to April 2003, her income at that
position did not rise to the substantial gainful activity
level. (Doc. 19 at 3). Thus, the ALJ's factual findings
regarding the 1997-2000 job and the 2003 job are not
supported by the record.
argues, however, that these errors were harmless because
Plaintiff worked at a job as a cashier and garment sorter in
2006 and 2007 and earned income at the substantial gainful
activity level in that position. (Doc. 18 at 4). Thus,
Defendant concludes that while the ALJ's ...