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Perry v. Astrue

October 20, 2009

CHESTER LEE PERRY, 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

Chester Lee Perry filed this action on September 25, 2008. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties filed Consents to proceed before Magistrate Judge Rosenberg on November 5 and 19, 2008. (Dkt. Nos. 8-9.) The parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") on July 20, 2009, that addressed the disputed issues in the case. The Court has taken the Joint Stipulation under submission without oral argument.

Having reviewed the entire file, the Court concludes that this matter is remanded for proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On January 31, 2006, Perry filed applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits. Administrative Record ("AR") 23. The applications were denied. AR 31-32. An Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") conducted a hearing on March 23, 2007, at which Perry, a medical expert ("ME") and a vocational expert testified. AR 199-243. On March 30, 2007, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 20-30. Perry requested review. AR 17. On July 18, 2008, the Appeals Counsel denied Perry's request for review. AR 10-14. 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

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 Perry had the following severe impairments: "coronary artery disease and peripheral vascular disease." AR 29. Perry had the residual functional capacity for light work with limitations. Id. "He can lift and carry up to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently and can stand and walk for 6 hours and sit without limitation. He can push and pull commensurate with his lifting ability without significant limitation, except that he is precluded from ...


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