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Hoang v. Commissioner of Social Security

September 9, 2009

MUI THI HOANG, PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory G. Hollows U.S. Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act ("Act"). For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED, the Commissioner's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED, and the Clerk is directed to enter judgment for the Commissioner.

This case has all the earmarks of one which was filed because the plaintiff is probably unemployable in the market economy on account of many reasons, and it was time to proffer the reason of disability. However, the dearth of treatment records showing any long-term medical problems belie any claim for disability. Plaintiff's reliance on one consultant psychiatric examiner who conducted a "one shot" examination, and concluded that plaintiff was essentially unemployable on account of depression, does not win the day.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, born January 15, 1954, applied on April 15, 2006 for disability benefits. Tr. at 18. Plaintiff alleged she was unable to work, taking care of her mother-in-law, due to headaches, arthritis, lower back pain, stress, dizziness, chest pain, poor memory, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, hip pain, poor concentration, insomnia, depression and asthma. Tr. at 14.

In a decision dated November 29, 2007, ALJ Stanley R. Hogg determined plaintiff was not disabled. The ALJ made the following findings:*fn1

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset of disability.

2. The claimant has the following medically determinable impairments: depression and possible pre-syncope 20 CFR § 416.920(c).

3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that has significantly limited (or is expected to significantly limit) the ability to perform basic work-related activities for 12 consecutive months; therefore, the claimant does not have a severe impairment or combination of impairments (20 CFR 416.921).

4. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since April 15, 2006 (20 CFR 416.920(c)), the date the application was filed.

Tr. at 12, 17.

ISSUES PRESENTED

Plaintiff has raised the following issues: A. Whether the ALJ failed to develop the record regarding plaintiff's hip surgery; B. Whether the ALJ erred in not finding that plaintiff had a severe impairment in step two of the evaluation process; and C. Whether the ALJ erred in failing to credit plaintiff's statements and third party statements.

LEGAL STANDARDS

The court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine whether (1) it is based on proper legal standards pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and (2) substantial evidence in the record as a whole supports it. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir.1999). Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Connett v. Barnhart, 340 F.3d 871, 873 (9th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted). It means "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007), quoting Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005). "The ALJ is responsible for determining credibility, resolving conflicts in medical testimony, and resolving ambiguities." Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir. ...


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