Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Gibson v. Astrue

July 1, 2009

SYLVIA A. GIBSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: VICTOR B. Kenton United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER THEREON

Plaintiff Sylvia A. Gibson ("Plaintiff") filed a Complaint on October 20, 2008, by and through her counsel, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking review of the Commissioner of Social Security's ("Commissioner") decision that she was not entitled to Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act ("Act"). Plaintiff seeks reversal of the Commissioner's decision, or in the alternative, for the Court to remand the matter for a new hearing.

The parties have consented to proceed before United States Magistrate Judge Victor B. Kenton, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The Commissioner has filed the certified Administrative Record ("AR").

On May 20, 2009, pursuant to this Court's case management Order, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS"). The Court then took the matter under submission. This Memorandum Opinion shall constitute the Court's findings of facts and conclusions of law.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed her application for SSI on January 24, 2007. (AR 93-96, 24.) Plaintiff alleged an onset date of disability of February 1, 2006. (AR 93.) Plaintiff alleged disabling conditions of degenerative disc disease of the back and shoulders. (AR 101.)

Plaintiff's application was originally denied on December 15, 2006, and then again upon reconsideration on May 4, 2007. (AR 77, 84-86.) Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") (AR 75), which occurred in San Bernardino, California on January 16, 2008 before ALJ Philip E. Moulaison. (AR 41-65.) Plaintiff appeared and testified and was represented by counsel, and testimony was also taken from a Vocational Expert ("VE"). Id.

On April 24, 2008, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff to be not disabled under the Act. (AR 24-30.) Plaintiff's request for review by the Appeals Council was denied on September 20, 2008 (AR 4-6), thus rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.

In her Complaint, Plaintiff raises the following issues:

(1) The ALJ failed to give specific and legitimate reasons supported by substantial evidence in the record for rejecting her treating physician's opinion; and

(2) The ALJ improperly rejected Plaintiff's credibility as to her subjective complaints.

II. DISCUSSION

The Court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), has the authority to review the Commissioner's decision denying Plaintiff's disability benefits to determine whether his findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether the Commissioner used the proper legal standards in reaching his decision. Meanel v. Apfel, 172 F.3d 1111, 1113 (9th Cir. 1999); Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998).

A claimant is "disabled" for the purpose of receiving benefits under the Social Security Act if he is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity due to an impairment which has lasted, or is expected to last, for a continuous period of at least twelve months. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1505(a), 416.905(a). "The claimant bears the burden of establishing a prima facie case of disability." Roberts v. Shalala, 66 F.3d 179, 182 (9th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 517 U.S. 1122 (1996); Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1289 (9th Cir. 1996).

Regulations promulgated by the Commissioner establish a five-step sequential evaluation process to be followed by the ALJ in a disability case. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. In the First Step, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant is currently engaged in substantial gainful activity; if so, a finding of non-disability is made and the claim is denied. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b), 416.920(b). If the claimant is not currently engaged in substantial gainful activity, in the Second Step, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has a severe impairment or combination of impairments significantly limiting her from performing basic work activities; if not, a finding of non-disability is made and the claim is denied. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). If the claimant has a severe impairment, in the Third Step, the ALJ must compare the impairment to those impairments in the Listing of Impairments ("Listing"), 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, App. 1; if the impairment meets or equals an impairment in the Listing, disability is conclusively presumed and benefits are awarded. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d). When the claimant's impairment does not meet or equal an impairment in the Listing, in the Fourth Step, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant has sufficient residual functional capacity ("RFC") despite the impairment or various limitations to perform her past work; if so, a finding of non-disability is made and the claim is denied. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). When the claimant shows an inability to perform past relevant work, a prima facie case of disability is established and, in Step Five, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to show the claimant can perform other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(f), 416.920(f).

Following this sequential evaluation process, at Step One, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the application date. (AR 26, Finding 1.) At Step Two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has an impairment or combination of impairments considered severe (Id., Finding 2), but at Step Three found such impairments do not meet or medically equal one of the Listings. (Id., Finding 3.) At Step Four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has sufficient RFC to perform at least a wide range of light work including sitting, standing and walking up to six hours a day, lifting and carrying ten pounds frequently and twenty pounds occasionally, and occasional bending, kneeling, and crawling. (AR 26-27, Finding 4.) At Step Five, the ALJ found that she was not under a disability under the Act since the filing date of the application. (AR 29, Finding 10.)

III. THE ALJ FAILED TO PROVIDE SPECIFIC AND LEGITIMATE REASONS FOR REJECTING THE TREATING PHYSICIAN'S OPINION

A. The ALJ's Decision

The ALJ concluded Plaintiff can perform medium work activity including occasionally lifting and carrying up to fifty pounds and unlimited ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.