United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honorable Lynette C. Kimmins United States Magistrate Judge
John Arriaga 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 Arriaga's Opening Brief,
Defendant's Responsive Brief, and Arriaga's Reply.
(Docs. 19, 28, 31.) The parties have consented to Magistrate
Judge jurisdiction. (Doc. 21.) Based on the pleadings and the
administrative record submitted to the Court, the Court
remands this matter for further proceedings.
received Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as a child for
ADHD, beginning in 2002. (Administrative Record (AR) 88.)
When SSA reviewed his case as an adult, it determined he was
not disabled as of January 13, 2014. (AR 86, 101.) Arriaga
then filed an application for SSI on February 12, 2014. (AR
189.) He alleged disability from January 1, 1999.
(Id.) On June 13, 2014, a disability hearing
officer, without holding a hearing, determined that Arriaga
was not disabled. (AR 87, 118-26.) Arriaga's application
was denied upon initial review (AR 86-104) and on
reconsideration (AR 105- 50). A hearing was held on January
8, 2015 (AR 47-85), after which an ALJ found that Arriaga was
not disabled because he could perform work available in the
national economy (AR 28-39). The Appeals Council denied
Arriaga's request to review the ALJ's decision. (AR
was born on July 20, 1994, making him 5 years of age at the
onset date of his alleged disability and 19 at the date of
SSA's non-disability finding. (AR 58.) Arriaga never has
found, as of January 13, 2014, Arriaga had three severe
impairments, borderline intellectual functioning, mood
disorder, and attention deficit disorder (ADD)/ attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). (AR 30.) The ALJ
determined Arriaga had the RFC to perform light work but
should never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds, and should
avoid hazards. (AR 33.) He limited Arriaga to short and
simple instructions and simple work-related decisions, and
only occasional interaction with the public and co-workers.
(Id.) The ALJ concluded at Step Five, based on the
Medical-Vocational Guidelines, that Arriaga could perform
work that exists in significant numbers in the national
economy. (AR 38.)
Commissioner employs a five-step sequential process to
evaluate SSI claims. 20 C.F.R. § 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.
§ 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. § 416.920(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 five errors: (1) he failed to
consider the combined impact of all impairments; (2) he
failed to provide clear and convincing reasons for rejecting
Arriaga's credibility; (3) he improperly weighed the
medical opinion evidence; (4) he failed to develop the record
and call a vocational expert; and (5) he cherry-picked and
failed to consider properly all evidence. The allegations of
Claim 5 will be discussed within Claims 1, 2, and 3.
argues the ALJ failed to consider the impact of all his
combined impairments, severe and non-severe, at ...