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Boyer v. Astrue

September 3, 2009

SCOTT BOYER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Alicia G. Rosenberg United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Dana Boyer filed this action on October 2, 2008. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before Magistrate Judge Rosenberg on October 28 and November 13, 2008. (Dkt. Nos. 8-9.) On May 11 and 20, 2009, the Commissioner filed the certified administrative record and supplemental certified administrative record (collectively, "AR"). (Dkt. Nos. 15-16.) On July 14, 2009, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") that addressed the disputed issues. (Dkt. No. 20.) The Court has taken the matter under submission without oral argument.

Having reviewed the entire file, the Court affirms the Commissioner's decision.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On September 29, 2006, Boyer filed an application for Supplemental Security Income benefits alleging an amended disability onset date of September 29, 2006. AR 8, 34-35. The application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. An Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") conducted a hearing on November 21, 2007, at which Boyer and a vocational expert testified. AR 13-37. On November 30, 2007, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 8-12. On July 25, 2008, the Appeals Council denied Boyer's request for review. AR 1-3. This lawsuit followed.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. The decision will be disturbed only if it is not supported by substantial evidence, or if it is based upon the application of improper legal standards. Moncada v. Chater, 60 F.3d 521, 523 (9th Cir. 1995); Drouin v. Sullivan, 966 F.2d 1255, 1257 (9th Cir. 1992).

"Substantial evidence" means "more than a mere scintilla but less than a preponderance -- it is such relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support the conclusion." Moncada, 60 F.3d at 523. In determining whether substantial evidence exists to support the Commissioner's decision, the Court examines the administrative record as a whole, considering adverse as well as supporting evidence. Drouin, 966 F.2d at 1257. When the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Court must defer to the Commissioner's decision. Moncada, 60 F.3d at 523.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Disability

A person qualifies as disabled, and thereby eligible for such benefits, "only if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy." Barnhart v. Thomas, 540 U.S. 20, 21-22, 124 S.Ct. 376, 157 L.Ed. 2d 333 (2003).

B. The ALJ's Findings

Boyer has the following severe impairment: chronic pain. AR 11. He "has the residual functional capacity to perform medium work with no climbing of ropes/ladders/scaffolds and with avoidance of working at unprotected heights or around dangerous moving machinery." AR 11-12. Boyer "does not have a medically determinable mental impairment." Boyer is unable to perform his past relevant work. However, Boyer can perform jobs ...


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