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Lara v. Astrue

October 5, 2009

RENEE M. LARA, 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

(Social Security Case)

This matter is before the Court for review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff's application for disability benefits. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(c), the parties have consented that the case may be handled by the Magistrate Judge. The action arises under 42 U.S.C. §405(g), which authorizes the Court to enter judgment upon the pleadings and transcript of the record before the Commissioner. The parties have filed the Joint Stipulation ("JS"), and the Commissioner has filed the certified Administrative Record ("AR").

Plaintiff raises the following issues:

1. Whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly considered the lay witness testimony;

2. Whether the ALJ properly considered the consultative examiner's opinion;

3. Whether the ALJ posed a complete hypothetical question to the vocational expert; and

4. Whether the ALJ properly considered the severity of Plaintiff's mental impairment.

(JS at 3.)

This Memorandum Opinion will constitute the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law. After reviewing the matter, the Court concludes that the decision of the Commissioner must be affirmed.

I. THE ALJ DID NOT COMMIT ERROR WITH REGARD TO A FAILURE TO CONSIDER CERTAIN LAY WITNESS TESTIMONY

In Plaintiff's first issue, she identifies certain testimony at the original hearing in this matter.*fn1

The testimony of Plaintiff's sister which is involved in Issue No. 1 occurred at the first hearing. During that testimony, which Plaintiff summarizes (see JS at 3-5), Plaintiff's sister testified that after the year 2000, Plaintiff had "more depression. And then she had like a lot of problems with her back." Plaintiff's sister also testified that "When she gets real bad, she gets, you know -starts talking about suicide, you know, her suicidal thoughts." (AR 105.)

Plaintiff asserts that despite this credible lay witness testimony, the ALJ erred by failing to discuss or ...


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