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MADRIGAL v. SULLIVAN

October 22, 1991

RAMON C. MADRIGAL, Plaintiff,
v.
LOUIS W. SULLIVAN, M.D., Secretary of Health and Human Services, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLIAM A. INGRAM

 Plaintiff seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Secretary of Health and Human Services ("Secretary"), denying plaintiff's claim for disability insurance benefits. Presently before the court are plaintiff's motion to remand and defendant's motion for summary judgment. Having considered the parties' moving papers and the arguments contained therein and for good cause appearing, it is HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion is DENIED and defendant's motion is GRANTED.

 Plaintiff has moved to vacate the Secretary's decision and remand for further proceedings on the grounds that plaintiff should have been considered as being age fifty for purposes of determining whether or not plaintiff is disabled, and that the Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") determination that plaintiff is able to perform light work is not supported by substantial evidence.

 I. Background.

 Plaintiff filed an application for social security disability insurance benefits on June 23, 1987. Plaintiff's application was denied both initially and again on reconsideration. Plaintiff then filed a request for a hearing before an ALJ. The ALJ rendered a decision in favor of the Secretary. On review, the Appeals Council vacated the ALJ's decision, and remanded the case for a new hearing.

 On remand, a second hearing was held before another ALJ. On August 22, 1989, he also rendered a decision in favor of the Secretary. The Appeals Council declined review thereby making the August 22, 1989 decision the final decision of the Secretary. On May 25, 1990, plaintiff filed this action.

 Plaintiff Ramon Madrigal was born on March 21, 1940 in Mexico. He has had no formal education. He taught himself to read and write Spanish. He can also read and speak some English. His past work was in unskilled and manual labor positions. Before his accident, he was working at Sanco Pipeline as a construction laborer performing tasks such as as installing sewer lines, water pipes, grading, clearing and other construction duties. (Tr. 228-29).

 Plaintiff was injured July 30, 1985 while on the job. He had been working in a ditch when a large object fell on his head, neck and shoulder area momentarily knocking him unconscious. He was taken to the hospital where he was examined and released. (Tr. 227)

 Plaintiff claims that he is disabled because of a cervical and spine strain. (Tr. 95). Plaintiff further claims that he suffers neck, back and limb pain. (Tr. 8).

 II. ALJ's Findings

 Upon remand, the ALJ found that while plaintiff is unable to perform his past relevant work as a construction worker, he is capable of performing a significant number of light work jobs in the national economy. (Tr. 10). The ALJ further found that the plaintiff's complaints of pain are exaggerated and not supported by the medical evidence in the record. The ALJ also determined that the plaintiff was forty-nine years old at the time of the decision. Based on plaintiff's age and his ability to do light work, the AlJ found plaintiff not to be disabled.

 III. Standard of Review

 The court must affirm the ALJ's determination unless upon review of the record as a whole, the court finds the ALJ to have committed legal error or that the ALJ's determination is not supported by substantial evidence in the record. Bates v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1059 (9th Cir. 1990). "Substantial evidence means 'more than a mere scintilla' . . . but 'less than a preponderance. . . .' It means 'such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. . . .' This ...


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