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Isaacson v. Astrue

October 2, 2009

LARRY ISAACSON, 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

Plaintiff Larry Isaacson ("Isaacson") filed a Complaint on October 24, 2008. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties filed Consents to proceed before Magistrate Judge Rosenberg on November 13 and 25, 2008. (Dkt. Nos. 8-9.) The parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") on July 7, 2009, that addressed the disputed issues in the case. The Commissioner filed the certified administrative record ("AR"). The Court has taken the Joint Stipulation under submission without oral argument.

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

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On September 30, 2005, Isaacson filed applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits, alleging a disability onset date of December 1, 2003. AR 14. The applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 31-32. On February 5, 2008, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") conducted a hearing at which Isaacson and a vocational expert testified. AR 498-522. On April 25, 2008, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 11-23. Isaacson filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision. AR 10. On August 20, 2008, the Appeals Council denied the request for review. AR 5-7. This lawsuit followed.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court has authority to review the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. The decision will be disturbed only if it is not supported by substantial evidence or 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).

In this context, "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. When 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. Where the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Court must defer to the decision of the Commissioner. Moncada, 60 F.3d at 523.

III. EVALUATION OF DISABILITY

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) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

B. The ALJ's Findings

The ALJ found that Isaacson met the insured status requirements through December 31, 2006. AR 16.

Following the five step sequential evaluation process for determining disability, Lounsburry v. Barnhart, 468 F.3d 1111, 1114 (9th Cir. 2006), the ALJ found that Isaacson has the following severe impairments: depressive disorder, NOS; and pedophilia. AR 16. Isaacson "has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following non-exertional limitations: he is limited to simple, repetitive tasks with minimal social contact." AR 18. He is unable to perform his past relevant work. AR 21. However, "there are jobs that exist in ...


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