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Hanrahan v. Astrue

August 12, 2010

RICHARD P. HANRAHAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Mcdermott United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AFFIRMING DECISION OF COMMISSIONER PROCEEDINGS

On May 28, 2009, Richard P. Hanrahan ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant" or "Hanrahan") filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for both Social Security disability insurance benefits and Supplemental Social Security income. The Commissioner filed an Answer on July 27, 2009. On November 23, 2009, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS").

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties consented to proceed before the Magistrate Judge. The matter is now ready for decision. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record ("AR"), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision should be affirmed and the case dismissed with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a 47 year old male who was determined to have the medically determinable severe impairment of mild carpal tunnel syndrome. (AR 14.) Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 11, 2005, the alleged onset date. (AR 14.)

Plaintiff's claim was denied initially on December 14, 2006, and on reconsideration on April 13, 2007. (AR 12.) He filed a timely request for hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Eric Benham on October 9, 2007, in Palmdale, California. (AR 12.) Claimant appeared and testified. (AR 12.) Vocational expert Randi Langford-Hetrick also testified. (AR 12.)

The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on May 27, 2008. (AR 12-19.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity ("RFC")*fn1 to perform light work, except that he can no more than occasionally perform postural changes, has no right eye vision, and can no more than frequently handle or finger with his right hand. (AR 15.) The ALJ found that Plaintiff could not perform his prior work in air-conditioning and heating (AR 17) but could perform other jobs in the national economy, and therefore was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (AR 17-18.) The ALJ also determined that Claimant has a limited education but is able to communicate in English. (AR 17.)

DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, the sole disputed issue that Plaintiff is raising as a ground for reversal is as follows:

1. Whether the ALJ properly considered the presence of a manipulative impairment.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the ALJ's decision to determine whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether the proper legal standards were applied. DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991). Substantial evidence means "'more than a mere scintilla' but less than a preponderance." Saelee v. Chater, 94 F.3d 520, 521-22 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)).

Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401 (internal quotations and citations omitted). This Court must review the record as a whole and consider adverse as well as supporting evidence. Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006). Where evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the ALJ's decision must be upheld. Morgan v. Comm'r, 169 F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999). "However, a reviewing court must consider the entire record as a whole and may not affirm simply by isolating a 'specific quantum of supporting evidence.'" Robbins, 466 F.3d at 882 (quoting Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989)); see also Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007).

SEQUENTIAL EVALUATION

The Social Security Act defines disability as the "inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or . . . can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A). The Commissioner has established a five-step sequential process to determine whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920.

The first step is to determine whether the claimant is presently engaging in substantially gainful activity. Parra v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746 (9th Cir. 2007). If the claimant is engaging in substantially ...


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