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Megerdish v. Astrue

June 30, 2009

LEVON MEGERDISH, 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 October 1, 2008, Levon Megerdish ("plaintiff") filed a Complaint seeking review of the Social Security Administration's denial of his applications for Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits. On October 3, 2008, plaintiff filed a Consent to Proceed Before United States Magistrate Judge Jennifer T. Lum. On November 19, 2008, Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security ("defendant"), filed a Consent to Proceed Before United States Magistrate Judge Jennifer T. Lum. Thereafter, on February 2, 2009, defendant filed an Answer to the Complaint. On May 11, 2009, the parties filed their Joint Stipulation.

The matter is now ready for decision.

BACKGROUND

On May 6, 2006, plaintiff filed applications for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits alleging a disability onset date of April 1, 2000. (See Administrative Record ["AR"] at 11). The Commissioner denied plaintiff's application for benefits both initially and upon reconsideration. (AR at 103-21). Thereafter, plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (AR at 124).

On March 19, 2008, the ALJ conducted a hearing in San Bernardino, California. (See AR at 35-87). Plaintiff appeared at the hearing with counsel and testified. (AR at 42-51, 65-74). Plaintiff, through his counsel, amended his disability onset date to February 9, 2006. (AR at 37-38, 43-44). Henry Landau, M.D., a medical expert, and Troy L. Scott, a vocational expert, also appeared and testified at the hearing. (AR at 51-65, 74-85).

On May 2, 2008, the ALJ issued his decision denying benefits to plaintiff. (AR at 11-23). The ALJ determined that plaintiff had the following severe impairments: ischemic heart disease, lumbar spine disorder, possible chronic angina pectoris currently stable, obesity, and a depressive disorder not otherwise specified. (AR at 14). 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). The ALJ then determined that plaintiff had the residual functional capacity to do a limited range of light work.*fn1 Specifically, the ALJ found that, out of an eight-hour work day, plaintiff could stand and/or walk for two hours; sit for six hours; less than occasionally bend, stoop, and crouch; is precluded from climbing ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; is able to frequently balance and walk on uneven terrain; and, mentally, is able to perform simple, repetitive tasks. (AR at 14-15). The ALJ determined that jobs exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff can perform such as handpacker (DOT No. 920.587-018); receptionist (DOT No. 237.367-022); and general office clerk (DOT No. 209.562.0010). (AR at 22). Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not entitled to Supplemental Security Income benefits through the date of the decision.*fn2 (AR at 23). The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's timely request for review of the ALJ's decision. (AR at 1-4).

Thereafter, plaintiff appealed to the United States District Court.

PLAINTIFF'S CONTENTIONS

Plaintiff makes the following claims:

1. The ALJ erred in determining that plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform light work.

2. The ALJ erred in his application of Medical-Vocational Rule 202.21. 3. The ALJ failed to properly consider the moderate mental limitations assessed by K.D. Gregg, M.D.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. Section 405(g), this Court reviews the ALJ's decision to determine whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether the proper legal standards were applied. DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991). Substantial evidence means "more than a mere scintilla" but less than a preponderance. Richardson ...


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