United States District Court, D. Arizona
HONORABLE LYNNETTE C. KIMMINS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Darcy Wyatt 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 Wyatt's Opening Brief,
Defendant's Responsive Brief, and Wyatt's Reply.
(Docs. 16-18.) The parties have consented to Magistrate Judge
jurisdiction. (Doc. 13.) Based on the pleadings and the
administrative record, the Court remands for further
filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB)
in May 2015. (Administrative Record (AR) 298.) She alleged
disability from November 1, 2008. (Id.) Wyatt's
application was denied upon initial review (AR 196-205) and
on reconsideration (AR 206-21). A hearing was held on May 16,
2017. (AR 167-95.) Subsequently, the ALJ found that Wyatt was
not disabled. (AR 25-32.) The Appeals Council denied
Wyatt's request for review. (AR 1.)
was born in 1958 and was 59 years of age at the time of the
ALJ's decision. (AR 298.) The ALJ found that Wyatt had
severe impairments of COPD, Crohn's disease, right
degenerative meniscus tear without mechanical symptoms, and
status post double mastectomy. (AR 27.) The ALJ determined
Wyatt had the Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) to perform
the full range of light work. (AR 29.) The ALJ concluded at
Step Four, based on the testimony of a vocational expert,
that Wyatt could perform her past relevant work as a gas
station cashier, gas station manager, and retail cashier. (AR
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 her 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, he 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 two errors: (1) he failed to provide
clear and convincing reasons for rejecting her symptom
testimony; and (2) he failed to account for limitations
arising from her Crohn's disease in the RFC.
argues the ALJ failed to provide clear and convincing reasons
to reject her symptom 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. “To determine whether a
claimant's testimony regarding subjective pain or
symptoms is credible, an ALJ must engage in a two-step
analysis.” Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d
1028, 1035-36 (9th Cir. 2007).
“the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has
presented objective medical evidence of an underlying
impairment ‘which could reasonably be expected to
produce the pain or other symptoms alleged.'”
Id. at 1036 (quoting Bunnell, 947 F.2d at
344). The ALJ found Wyatt had satisfied part one of the test
by proving impairments that could produce the symptoms
alleged. (AR 30.) Next, “unless an ALJ makes a finding
of malingering based on affirmative evidence thereof, he or
she may only find an applicant not credible by making
specific findings as to credibility and stating clear and
convincing reasons for each.” Robbins, 466
F.3d at 883; Benton v. Barnhart, 331 F.3d 1030, 1040
(9th Cir. 2003) (holding an ALJ can reject claimant testimony
if he finds evidence of malingering). The ALJ did not make an