United States District Court, D. Arizona
HONORABLE LYNNETTE C. KIMMINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Joanna Reis 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.) In
response, Defendant requested a remand for further
proceedings, to which Plaintiff replied seeking a remand for
payment of benefits. (Docs. 22, 23.) The parties have
consented to Magistrate Judge jurisdiction. (Doc. 14.) Based
on the pleadings and the administrative record, the Court
remands this matter for benefits.
filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB)
in March 2014. (Administrative Record (AR) 187.) She alleged
disability from September 20, 2013. (Id.) Reis's
application was denied upon initial review (AR 60-80) and on
reconsideration (AR 81-102). A hearing was held on June 9,
2016. (AR 41-59.) Subsequently, the ALJ found that Reis was
not disabled. (AR 20-31). The Appeals Council denied
Reis's request to review the ALJ's decision. (AR 1.)
was born on June 23, 1976, making her 37 years of age at the
onset date of her alleged disability. (AR 187.) Reis has a
college degree and worked most recently in a clinical
position with COPE Community Services from 2007 to 2013. (AR
found that Reis had the severe impairments of other disorders
of the nervous system, obesity, cervical disorders, tardive
dyskinesia, chronic pain, obstructive sleep apnea, affective
disorders, and anxiety disorders. (AR 22.) The ALJ determined
Reis had the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to perform
light work but could balance and stoop only frequently; climb
ramps/stairs, kneel, crouch, and crawl occasionally; and
never climb ladders/ropes/scaffolds. (AR 24.) The ALJ stated
that Reis could understand, remember, and carry out simple
instructions, respond appropriately to supervisors,
coworkers, and work situations, and maintain concentration,
persistence, and pace for two-hour periods without a break.
(AR 24-25.) The ALJ concluded at Step Five, based on the
testimony of a vocational expert, that Reis could perform
work available in the national economy. (AR 30-31.)
Commissioner employs a five-step sequential process to
evaluate DIB claims. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520; see also
Heckler v. Campbell, 461 U.S. 458, 460-462 (1983). To
establish disability the claimant bears the burden of showing
she (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 her from performing his past work. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(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 three errors: (1) he failed to
provide clear and convincing reasons for rejecting her
credibility; (2) he erred in giving reduced weight to
treating and examining physician opinions; and (3) he failed
to include all of Reis's limitations in the RFC.
argues the ALJ failed to provide clear and convincing reasons
to reject her testimony. In general, “questions of
credibility and resolution of conflicts in the testimony are
functions solely” for the ALJ. Parra v.
Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 750 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Sample v. Schweiker, 694 F.2d 639, 642 (9th Cir.
1982)). However, “[w]hile an ALJ may certainly find
testimony not credible and disregard it . . . [the court]
cannot affirm such a determination unless it is supported by
specific findings and reasoning.” Robbins v. Soc.
Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 884-85 (9th Cir. 2006);
Bunnell v. Sullivan, 947 F.2d 341, 345-346 (9th Cir.
1995) (requiring specificity to ensure a reviewing court the
ALJ did not arbitrarily reject a claimant's subjective
testimony); SSR 96-7p. ...