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Montgomery v. Astrue

March 13, 2009

CRISANDRA F. MONTGOMERY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jennifer T. Lum United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER PROCEEDINGS

On June 3, 2008, Crisandra F. Montgomery ("plaintiff") filed a Complaint seeking review of the Social Security Administration's denial of her application for Supplemental Security Income benefits. On July 8, 2008, plaintiff filed a Consent to Proceed Before United States Magistrate Judge Jennifer T. Lum. On August 4, 2008, Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security ("defendant"), filed a Consent to Proceed Before United States Magistrate Judge Jennifer T. Lum. Thereafter, on December 9, 2008, defendant filed an Answer to the Complaint. On February 16, 2009, the parties filed their Joint Stipulation.

The matter is now ready for decision.

BACKGROUND

On January 12, 2004, plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Security Income benefits alleging a disability onset date of April 1, 2003. (Administrative Record ["AR"] at 88-91). The Commissioner denied plaintiff's application for benefits both initially and upon reconsideration. (AR at 43; see AR at 26). Thereafter, plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (AR at 48).

On October 17, 2005, the ALJ conducted a hearing in Pasadena, California. (See AR at 544-96). Plaintiff appeared at the hearing with counsel and testified. (AR at 547-90). Elizabeth Ramos-Brown, Ph.D., a vocational expert, also testified at the hearing. (AR at 590-94). On July 11, 2006, the ALJ conducted a supplemental hearing in Pasadena, California. (AR at 597-623). Plaintiff appeared at the hearing with counsel and testified. (AR at 600-15, 621-22). Gail L. Maron, a vocational expert, also appeared and testified at the hearing. (AR at 616-20).

On August 25, 2006, the ALJ issued his decision denying benefits to plaintiff. (AR at 26-34). The ALJ determined that plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine with chronic cervical radiculopathy; minimal degenerative arthritis, lumbar spine; and right shoulder impingement with partial right shoulder cuff tear. (AR at 28-29). The ALJ found that plaintiff's conditions did not meet or equal any of the impairments contained in the Listing of Impairments (see 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1). (AR at 29). The ALJ determined that plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform a range of light work*fn1 including her past relevant work as a telemarketer and psychic reader. (AR at 29-33). Thus, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision. (AR at 34). The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's timely request for review of the ALJ's decision. (AR at 7-10).

Thereafter, plaintiff appealed to the United States District Court.

PLAINTIFF'S CONTENTIONS

Plaintiff makes the following claims:

1. The ALJ failed to properly consider the functional limitations assessed by plaintiff's treating physician.

2. The ALJ failed to properly consider the effect of plaintiff's obesity on her other impairments.

3. The ALJ erred in his evaluation of plaintiff's credibility.

4. The ALJ failed to properly consider the physical and mental demands of plaintiff's past relevant work as a ...


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