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Guyler v. Astrue

May 17, 2010

MARCIA L. GUYLER, 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

Marcia L. Guyler filed this action on March 27, 2009. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties filed Statements of Consent to proceed before Magistrate Judge Rosenberg on April 7 and 13, 2009. (Dkt. Nos. 8-9.) On October 20, 2009, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") that addressed the disputed issues. The Commissioner filed the Certified Administrative Record ("AR"). The Court has taken the matter under submission without oral argument.

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

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On April 12, 2006, Guyler filed an application for supplemental security income benefits. AR 8. The application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 54-57. Guyler requested a hearing. AR 71. The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") conducted a hearing on May 7, 2008. AR 22-53. On May 30, 2008, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 5-14. Guyler filed a request for review. AR 79. On February 13, 2009, the Appeals Council denied the request for review. AR 1-4. 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 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 person qualifies as disabled and is eligible for 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).

A. The ALJ's Findings

The ALJ found that Guyler had the following severe impairments: "polyarthralgias; degenerative disc disease; and osteoarthritis." AR 10. Guyler had the residual functional capacity to perform a range of light work as follows: "able to lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently; able to stand and/or walk for two hours at one time for a total of four hours during an eight-hour workday; able to sit for four hours total during an eight-hour workday; cannot work on unprotected heights; must avoid extreme cold; cannot balance or crawl; cannot perform forceful gripping; and cannot climb, stoop, kneel, or crouch on more than an occasional basis." Id. Guyler could not perform her past relevant work, but "there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that [she] can perform," such as information clerk, inspector, or cashier

II. AR 13

B. Whether the Claimant Met or ...


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