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Ford v. Astrue

August 2, 2010

ANGENETT FORD, 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

Angenett Ford filed this action on June 19, 2009. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before Magistrate Judge Rosenberg on July 9 and 16, 2009. (Dkt. Nos. 8-9.) On January 26, 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 May 7, 2007, Ford filed applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits. Administrative Record ("AR") 9. In both applications, Ford alleged a disability onset date of February 28, 2007. Id. The applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 50-53. Ford requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 69. On January 16, 2009, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which Ford and a lay witness testified. AR 19-49. On March 16, 2009, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 6-15. On May 13, 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 that Ford meets the insured status requirements through December 31, 2011. AR 11.

Ford has "severe impairments in the musculoskeletal system." Id. She has the residual functional capacity to perform light work. "Specifically, the claimant is able to lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. Out of an 8-hour workday, the claimant is able to stand and/or walk for 6 hours and sit for 6 hours. She is able to occasionally, climb, stoop, and crouch. The claimant should avoid work that requires fine ...


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