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McConahy v. Astrue

May 15, 2009

DAMION L. MCCONAHY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Jacqueline Chooljian United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. SUMMARY

On April 24, 2008, plaintiff Damion L. McConahy ("plaintiff") filed a Complaint seeking review of the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of plaintiff's application for benefits. The parties have filed a consent to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment, respectively ("Plaintiff's Motion") and ("Defendant's Motion"). The Court has taken both motions under submission without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15; April 25, 2008 Case Management Order, ¶ 5.

Based on the record as a whole and the applicable law, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED. The findings of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") are supported by substantial evidence and are free from material error.*fn1

II. BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

On March 31, 2005, plaintiff filed an application for Security Income benefits, asserting he became disabled on July 12, 1992. (AR 21). The ALJ examined the medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, and a vocational expert on March 8, 2007. (AR 259-75).

On April 23, 2007, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision. (AR 21-26). Specifically, the ALJ found:

(1) plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: Status post gunshot wound to the left hip and chronic mechanical back pain (AR 22); (2) plaintiff suffered from a nonsevere depressive disorder (AR 22); (3) plaintiff's impairments or combination of impairments did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments (AR 22); (4) plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work, could lift/carry up to 10 pounds, and could "do posturals," but was "restricted by mild limitations in attention, concentration, understanding, and memory" (AR 23, 25); (5) plaintiff could not perform his past relevant work (AR 24); (6) plaintiff could perform other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy (AR 25); and (7) plaintiff's allegations regarding his limitations were not entirely credible. (AR 23).

The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's application for review. (AR 8-10).

III. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Sequential Evaluation Process

To qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must show that he is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a 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 at least twelve months. Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A)). The impairment must render the claimant incapable of performing the work he previously performed and incapable of performing any other substantial gainful employment that exists in the national economy. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A)). In assessing whether a claimant is disabled, an ALJ is to follow a five-step sequential evaluation process:

(1) Is the claimant presently engaged in substantial gainful activity? If so, the claimant is not disabled. If not, proceed to step two.

(2) Is the claimant's alleged impairment sufficiently severe to limit his ability to work? If not, the claimant is not disabled. If so, proceed to step three.

(3) Does the claimant's impairment, or combination of impairments, meet or equal an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1? If so, the claimant is disabled. If not, proceed to step four.

(4) Does the claimant possess the residual functional capacity to perform his past relevant work? If so, the claimant is not disabled. If not, proceed to step five.

(5) Does the claimant's residual functional capacity, when considered with the claimant's age, education, and work experience, allow him to adjust to other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy? If so, the ...


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