The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Jacqueline Chooljian United States Magistrate Judge
On April 22, 2009, plaintiff Don Robert Phillips ("plaintiff") filed a Complaint seeking review of the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of plaintiff's application for benefits. The parties have consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge.
This matter is before the Court on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment, respectively ("Plaintiff's Motion") and ("Defendant's Motion"). The Court has taken both motions under submission without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15; April 27, 2009 Case Management Order ¶ 5.
Based on the record as a whole and the applicable law, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED. The findings of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") are supported by substantial evidence and are free from material error.*fn1
II. BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
On August 7, 2006, plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") 15). Plaintiff asserted that he became disabled on March 3, 2006, due to rheumatoid arthritis and acute gouty arthritis. (AR 125-26). The ALJ examined the medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, on February 25, 2008. (AR 26-70).
On April 10, 2009, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision. (AR 15-25). Specifically, the ALJ found:
(1) plaintiff suffered from the following severe combination of impairments: a history of tophaceous gouty arthropathy with previous involvement of the right ankle, right foot, and left knee; a history of osteomyelitis; and hypertension, controlled by medication (AR 17); (2) plaintiff's impairments, considered singly or in combination, did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments (AR 18); (3) plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform medium*fn2 work with certain limitations (AR 18); (4) plaintiff could not perform his past*fn3 relevant work as a stage builder for television and theater (AR 23); (5) there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could perform, specifically hand packager, machine packager, and dining room attendant (AR 24-25); and (6) plaintiff's allegations regarding his limitations were not totally credible. (AR 21-23).
The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's application for review. (AR 1-4).
III. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS
A. Sequential Evaluation Process
To qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must show that he is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months. Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A)). The impairment must render the claimant incapable of performing the work he previously performed and incapable of performing any other substantial gainful employment that exists in the national economy. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A)). In assessing whether a claimant is disabled, an ALJ is to follow a five-step sequential evaluation process:
(1) Is the claimant presently engaged in substantial gainful activity? If so, the claimant is not disabled. If not, proceed to step two.
(2) Is the claimant's alleged impairment sufficiently severe to limit his ability to work? If not, the claimant is not ...