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Deang v. Astrue

July 13, 2010

VIVENCIO B. DEANG, 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

Vivencio B. Deang filed this action on May 13, 2009. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before Magistrate Judge Rosenberg on July 10 and July 13, 2009. (Dkt. Nos. 9-10.) On January 11, 2010, 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 December 29, 2006, Deang filed an application for disability insurance benefits alleging an onset date of February 1, 1996. Administrative Record ("AR") 9. The application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 47-48. An Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") conducted a hearing on August 21, 2008, at which Deang, his wife, and a vocational expert testified. AR 15-46. On October 21, 2008, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 6-14. On March 5, 2009, the Appeals Council denied the 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 Deang last met the insured status requirements on June 30, 2002. AR 11. Deang performed substantial gainful activity after the alleged onset date. AR 11, 13. Deang had the following severe impairments through the date last insured: "status post stroke, 1995, by reported history; and left sided weakness by reported history." AR 11. Deang had the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of light work. "The claimant could lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. He could stand and walk for 6 hours out of an 8-hour work day, and he could sit for 6 hours out of an ...


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