United States District Court, D. Arizona
K. Duncan United States Magistrate Judge
Ann Jeffries appeals from the denial of her application
for benefits by the Social Security Administration and argues
that the ALJ should not have rejected the opinion rendered by
her treating physician and did not provide sufficient reasons
for rejecting her symptom testimony. (Doc. 16)
Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
and, with the parties' consent to Magistrate Judge
jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Doc. 14)
Because the Court concludes that the ALJ did not err, the
Court will uphold the denial of benefits.
court must affirm the ALJ's findings if they are
supported by substantial evidence and are free from
reversible error. Marcia v. Sullivan, 900 F.2d 172,
174 (9th Cir. 1990). Substantial evidence is more
than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance; it is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). In
determining whether substantial evidence supports the
ALJ's decision, the court considers the record as a
whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and that
which detracts from the ALJ's conclusions. Reddick v.
Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1988).
The ALJ is responsible for resolving conflicts, ambiguity,
and determining credibility. Andrews v. Shalala, 53
F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 1995); Magallanes v.
Bowen, 881 F.2d 747, 750 (9th Cir. 1989). If
there is sufficient evidence to support the ALJ's
determination, the Court cannot substitute its own
determination. See Young v. Sullivan, 911 F.2d 180,
184 (9th Cir. 1990).
the Court must affirm the ALJ's decision where the
evidence considered in its entirety substantially supports it
and the decision is free from reversible error. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501
(9th Cir. 1989). The Court must do more than
merely rubber stamp the ALJ's decision. Winans v.
Bowen, 853 F.2d 643, 645 (9th Cir. 1988).
However, where the evidence is susceptible to more than one
rational interpretation, the ALJ's decision must be
upheld. Magallanes, 881 F.2d at 750.
was 46 years old on the alleged onset date, November 20,
2012. Jeffries has a 10th grade education and past
relevant work was as a cashier and cashier supervisor. (Tr.
21, 37, 52)
decision followed the requisite five step process. (Tr.
21-27) The ALJ found that Jeffries had not engaged in any
substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date.
(Tr. 23) Next, the ALJ found that Jeffries had the following
severe impairments: degenerative disc disease and dysfunction
of major joints. (Tr. 23) However, these impairments did not
meet or medically equal the severity of any listed
impairments. (Tr. 23)
found that several factors in the record weighed against
Jeffries' credibility about the severity of her symptoms
and her inability to work. (Tr. 25) The ALJ then noted that
her testimony about the effect of pain medications was not
consistent with her medical record. (Tr. 25) The ALJ then
noted that Jeffries' medical treatment has included
steroid injections, “some physical therapy, ” and
pain management with medication. (Tr. 25) The ALJ also noted
that Jeffries' x-rays of her lumbar spine showed minimal
levoscoliosis of the lower lumbar spine with minimal
spondylosis and probable facet arthrosis, as well as
arteriosclerotic vascular disease. Further, x-rays of her
cervical spine were unremarkable. Finally, the ALJ decision
noted that the medical record referred to a MRI that predated
the alleged onset date and indicated cervical spine issues.
then described the various medical opinions about
Jeffries' ability to perform work related tasks and
concluded that Jeffries could perform light work subject to
additional limitations. (Tr. 24-26) Accordingly, the ALJ
found that Jeffries was capable of performing her past
relevant work and, therefore, did not meet the Social
Security Act's definition of disability. (Tr. 27)
Testimony. Jeffries argues that the ALJ rejected her
symptom testimony without providing the necessary specific,
clear, and convincing reasons supported by substantial
evidence. (Doc. 16 at 16)
At the hearing, Jeffries testified about her symptoms. (Tr.
38-45, 48, 49) She stated that she had constant pain in her
neck and hands and that the pain extends to her neck and
face. She stated that her face pain is so severe that she can
hardly eat. She stated that she also experienced lower back
pain and that injections for her lower back had increased her
symptoms. She said that she took pain medication every day
and the medication made her feel tired and forgetful and did
not work on her ...