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Sigala v. Astrue

April 8, 2009

RONNETTE SIGALA, 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 July 30, 2008, Ronnette Sigala ("plaintiff") filed a Complaint seeking review of the Social Security Administration's denial of her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits. On August 15, 2008, plaintiff filed a Consent to Proceed Before United States Magistrate Judge Jennifer T. Lum. On August 22, 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 8, 2008, defendant filed an Answer to the Complaint. On March 16, 2009, the parties filed their Joint Stipulation.

The matter is now ready for decision.

BACKGROUND

On October 19, 2005, plaintiff filed applications for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits alleging a disability onset date of January 1, 2005. (See Administrative Record ["AR"] at 9). The Commissioner denied plaintiff's application for benefits both initially and upon reconsideration. (AR at 24, 23, 53-57, 48-52, 41-46). Thereafter, plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (AR at 37).

On August 27, 2007, the ALJ conducted a hearing in San Bernardino, California. (See AR at 338-55). Plaintiff, while informed of her right to counsel (see AR at 33-36, 340), chose to appear and testify at the hearing without representation. (AR at 341-55).

On January 22, 2008, the ALJ issued his decision denying benefits to plaintiff. (AR at 9-20). The ALJ determined that plaintiff had a severe musculoskeletal system disorder. (AR at 11). The ALJ also determined that plaintiff has diabetes mellitus and hypertension, a history of hypothyroidism and obesity, as well as a history childhood asthma; and that these conditions do not cause more than minimal limitations in plaintiff's ability to perform basic physical work activities and are, therefore, non-severe. (AR at 11-12). 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 12-14). The ALJ concluded that plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of medium work, and is capable of performing her past relevant work as an assembler, cashier, medial assistant, and rehabilitation specialist. (AR at 14-19). Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not disabled from January 1, 2005 through the date of the decision. (AR at 19). The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's timely request for review of the ALJ's decision. (AR at 2-4).

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 opinion of plaintiff's treating physician regarding plaintiff's asthma.

2. The ALJ failed to properly consider the opinion of plaintiff's treating physician regarding ...


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