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Sanford v. Astrue

July 12, 2010

MONICA SANFORD, 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

Monica Y. Sanford filed this action on May 1, 2009. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before Magistrate Judge Rosenberg on May 13 and May 14, 2009. On November 30, 2009, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") that addressed the disputed issues. The Court has taken the matter under submission without oral argument.

Having reviewed the entire file, the Court affirms the decision of the Commissioner.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On April 7, 2006, Sanford filed applications for supplemental security income and disability insurance benefits alleging an onset date of December 15, 2004. Administrative Record ("AR") 10. The applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 30-33. An Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") conducted a hearing on April 7, 2008, at which Sanford testified. AR 18-29. On May 19, 2008, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 7-17. On March 12, 2009, the Appeals Council denied Sanford's request for review. AR 1-3. This action 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 if 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. 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).

B. The ALJ's Findings

The ALJ found Sanford meets the insured status requirements through December 31, 2010. AR 12. Sanford has "severe impairments in the cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, and endocrine system, and from obesity." Id. She "does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments." AR 12-13. She "has the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of medium work." AR ...


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