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Hause v. Astrue

September 21, 2009

DANA HAUSE, 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 Hause filed this action on October 31, 2008. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before Magistrate Judge Rosenberg on November 25 and 26, 2008. (Dkt. Nos. 9-10.) On May 26, 2009, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") that addressed the disputed issues. (Dkt. No. 17.) The Court has taken the matter under submission without oral argument.

Having reviewed the entire file, the Court remands this matter to the Commissioner for proceedings consistent with this Opinion.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On March 9, 2005, Hause filed an application for Supplemental Security Income benefits alleging a disability onset date of April 27, 2004. Administrative Record ("AR") 13. The application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. An Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") conducted hearings on September 11, 2007 and May 13, 2008, at which Hause, a medical expert ("ME"), and a vocational expert testified. AR 42-69. On June 17, 2008, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 10-19. On September 23, 2008, the Appeals Council denied Hause's request for review. AR 5-7.

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

Hause has the following severe impairments: bipolar disorder and personality disorder. AR 15. Hause's residual functional capacity ("RFC") has no exertional limitations. She "has the ability to perform up to 4-5 complex step instructions in a relatively habituated setting without substantial changes; should not perform tasks requiring hypervigilance; should not operate hazardous machinery; and, should perform no fast paced work." AR 16. ...


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