United States District Court, D. Arizona
A. TEILBORG, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court is Plaintiff's appeal of her denial of
her application for social security disability benefits.
Plaintiff raises 4 claims of error on appeal: 1) the ALJ
failed to give sufficient reasons for not crediting the
opinions of a treating physician, Dr. Anderson; 2) the ALJ
failed to give sufficient reasons for not crediting
Plaintiff's symptom testimony; 3) the ALJ failed to give
sufficient reasons for not crediting the testimony of a lay
witness, B.N.; and 4) the ALJ posed an inadequate
hypothetical to the vocational expert.
Standard of Review on Appeal
ALJ's decision to deny benefits will be overturned
“only if it is not supported by substantial evidence or
is based on legal error.” Magallanes v. Bowen,
881 F.2d 747, 750 (9th Cir. 1989) (internal quotation
omitted). “Substantial evidence” means
“more than a mere scintilla, but less than a
preponderance.” Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d
715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998) (internal citation omitted). In
other words, substantial evidence means “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support [the ALJ's] conclusion.” Valentine v.
Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 574 F.3d 685, 690 (9th Cir.
inquiry here is whether the record, read as a whole, yields
such evidence as would allow a reasonable mind to accept the
conclusions reached by the ALJ.” Gallant v.
Heckler, 753 F.2d 1450, 1453 (9th Cir. 1984) (internal
citation omitted). In determining whether there is
substantial evidence to support a decision, the Court
considers the “record as a whole, weighing both the
evidence that supports the ALJ's conclusions and the
evidence that detracts from the” ALJ's conclusions.
Reddick, 157 F.3d at 720. “Where evidence is
susceptible of more than one rational interpretation, it is
the ALJ's conclusion which must be upheld; and in
reaching his findings, the ALJ is entitled to draw inferences
logically flowing from the evidence.” Gallant,
753 F.2d at 1453 (internal citations omitted); see Batson
v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d
1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004). This is because “[t]he
trier of fact 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 v. Sullivan, 981 F.2d
1016, 1019 (9th Cir. 1992); see Young v. Sullivan,
911 F.2d 180, 184 (9th Cir. 1990).
is responsible for resolving conflicts in medical testimony,
determining credibility, and resolving ambiguities. See
Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 1995).
Thus, if on the whole record before the Court, substantial
evidence supports the ALJ's decision and the decision is
free from legal error, the Court must affirm it. See
Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989);
see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (2012). On the
other hand, the Court “may not affirm simply by
isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence.”
Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007)
(internal quotation and citation omitted).
the Court is not charged with reviewing the evidence and
making its own judgment as to whether Plaintiff is or is not
disabled. See Connett v. Barnhart, 340 F.3d 871, 874
(9th Cir. 2003). Rather, the Court's inquiry is
constrained to the reasons asserted by the ALJ and the
evidence relied upon in support of those reasons. See
Definition of Disability
qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security
Act, a claimant must show that, among other things, he is
“under a disability.” 42 U.S.C. §
423(a)(1)(E). The Social Security Act defines
“disability” as the “inability to engage in
any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be
expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12
months.” Id. § 423(d)(1)(A).
person is “under a disability only if his physical or
mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he
is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot,
considering his age, education, and work experience, engage
in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in
the national economy.” Id. §
The Five-Step Evaluation Process
evaluate a claim of disability, the Social Security
regulations set forth a five-step sequential process. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4) (2016); see also
Reddick, 157 F.3d at 721. A finding of “not
disabled” at any step in the sequential process will
end the inquiry. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4). The
claimant bears the burden of proof through the first four
steps, but the burden shifts to the Commissioner in the final
step. Reddick, 157 F.3d at 721.
Claims of ...