United States District Court, D. Arizona
G. Murray Snow, United States District Judge
before the Court is Plaintiff Andres Bolinaga's appeal of
the Social Security Administration's decision to deny
benefits. (Doc. 1.) For the reasons set forth below, the
Court affirms the decision.
8, 2012, Andres Bolinaga applied for disability insurance
benefits, alleging a disability onset date of January 1,
2010. (Tr. 18.) Bolinaga's claim was denied both
initially and upon reconsideration. (Id.) He then
appealed to an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).
(Id.) The ALJ conducted a hearing on the matter on
September 11, 2014. (Tr. 42.)
evaluating whether Bolinaga was disabled, the ALJ undertook
the five-step sequential evaluation for determining
disability. At step one, the ALJ determined that
Bolinaga had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since his alleged onset date. (Tr. 20.) At step two, the ALJ
determined that Bolinaga suffered from severe impairments of
“coronary artery disease, status post coronary artery
bypass graft and stents; and chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (COPD).” (Id.) At step three, the ALJ
determined that none of these impairments, either alone or in
combination, met or equaled any of the Social Security
Administration's listed impairments. (Tr. 27-28.)
then made the following determination of Bolinaga's
residual functional capacity
[T]he claimant had the residual functional capacity to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except he
had environmental limitations and should avoid even moderate
exposure to extreme cold, avoid even moderate exposure to
extreme heat, and avoid even moderate exposure to fumes,
odors, dusts, gases, poor ventilation, etc.
(Tr. 28.) The ALJ therefore found that Bolinaga retained the
RFC to perform his past relevant work as a “computer
information technology (IT) manager.” (Tr. 32.) The ALJ
found that this work best fit the Dictionary of Occupational
Titles (“DOT”) listing for “Systems
Programmer, ” but noted that to the extent the work
might also be characterized as “Support Analyst
Supervisor” or “Systems Analyst, ” Bolinaga
retained the RFC to perform those jobs as well.
8, 2016, the Appeals Council declined to review the decision.
(Tr. 1.) Bolinaga filed the complaint underlying this action
on August 10, 2016, seeking this Court's review of the
ALJ's denial of benefits. (Doc. 1.)
Standard of Review
reviewing federal court need only address the issues raised
by the claimant in the appeal from the ALJ's decision.
See Lewis v. Apfel, 236 F.3d 503, 517 n.13 (9th Cir.
2001). A federal court may set aside a denial of disability
benefits only if that denial is either unsupported by
substantial evidence or based on legal error. Thomas v.
Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir. 2002). Substantial
evidence is “more than a scintilla but less than a
preponderance.” Id. (quotation omitted).
“Substantial evidence is relevant evidence which,
considering the record as a whole, a reasonable person might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Id. (quotation omitted).
is responsible for resolving conflicts in testimony,
determining credibility, and resolving ambiguities.
Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir.
1995). “When the evidence before the ALJ is subject to
more than one rational interpretation, we must defer to the
ALJ's conclusion.” Batson v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1198 (9th Cir. 2004). This
is so because “[t]he [ALJ] and not the reviewing court
must resolve conflicts in 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) (citations
omitted). However, the Court “must consider the entire
record as a whole and may not affirm simply by isolating a
‘specific quantum of supporting evidence.'”
Id. (citing Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498,
501 (9th Cir. 1989)). Nor may the Court “affirm the
ALJ's . . . decision based on evidence that the ALJ did
not discuss.” Connett v. Barnhart, 340 F.3d
871, 874 (9th Cir. 2003).
contends that the ALJ (1) failed to consider evidence that
would demonstrate that Bolinaga met the step three listing
for coronary artery disease; (2) failed to correctly
categorize Bolinaga's past relevant work; and (3)
improperly discredited Bolinaga's pain testimony based on
his daily activities.
Step Three Listing
three, the ALJ must “consider whether the
[claimant's] impairment or combination of impairments
meets or equals a listed impairment.” Burch v.
Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005). Bolinaga
contends that the ALJ should have found Bolinaga to meet
Listing 4.04(C), for coronary artery disease. That listing is
Coronary artery disease, demonstrated by angiography
(obtained independent of Social Security disability
evaluation) or other appropriate medically acceptable
imaging, and in the absence of a timely exercise tolerance
test or a timely normal drug-induced stress test, an MC,
preferably one experienced in the care of patients with
cardiovascular disease, has concluded that performance of
exercise tolerance testing would present a significant risk
to the individual, with both 1 and 2:
1. Angiographic evidence showing:
a. 50 percent or more narrowing of a nonbypassed left main
coronary artery; or
b. 70 percent or more narrowing of another nonbypassed
coronary artery; or
c. 50 percent or more narrowing involving a long (greater
than 1 cm) segment of a ...