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Carriger v. Astrue

March 3, 2010

JENNIFER CARRIGER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Mcdermott United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AFFIRMING DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY PROCEEDINGS

On December 10, 2008, Jennifer Carriger ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant") filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on March 18, 2009. On September 10, 2009, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS"). The matter is now ready for decision.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties consented to proceed before this Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record ("AR"), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision should be affirmed.

BACKGROUND

On May 31, 2005, Plaintiff Jennifer Carriger filed an application for SSI benefits and/or Disability Insurance. (AR 2.) She is a 32 year old woman who has the medically determinable impairments of bipolar disorder and disorders of the back. (AR 2, 15.) She has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the May 31, 2005, application date. (AR 15.)

Plaintiff's claims were denied initially on September 16, 2005, and on reconsideration on October 26, 2006. (AR 13.) Plaintiff filed a timely request for hearing which was held on November 1, 2006, in San Bernardino, California, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Joan G. Knight. (AR 13.) Claimant appeared and testified and was represented by counsel. (AR 13, 282-310.)

The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on May 30, 2008, denying Plaintiff's claim for benefits. (AR 10-19.) The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had the medically determinable impairments of bipolar disorder and disorders of the back but that these impairments singly or in combination were not severe. (AR 15.) Consequently, the ALJ determined that Claimant has not been under a disability within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (AR 19.)

Plaintiff filed a timely request for review by the Appeals Council, which was denied on October 14, 2008. (AR 3-5.) Plaintiff then timely filed the complaint in this case.

DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, the disputed issues that Plaintiff is raising as grounds for reversal and remand are as follows:

1. Whether the Commissioner committed reversible error by failing to evaluate properly Plaintiff's credibility?

2. Whether the Commissioner committed reversible error by failing to evaluate properly Plaintiff's subjective complaints of pain?

3. Whether the Commissioner committed reversible error by failing to find Plaintiff's mental impairment severe?

4. Whether the Commissioner committed reversible error by ignoring evidence from Plaintiff's treating sources?

5. Whether the ALJ committed reversible error by failing to consider Plaintiff's obesity in combination with other impairments?

6. Whether the Commissioner committed reversible error by failing to utilize a vocational expert in light of ...


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