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Berryman v. Astrue

August 16, 2010

PATRICK BERRYMAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Jacqueline Chooljian United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. SUMMARY

On July 2, 2009, plaintiff Patrick Berryman ("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; July 6, 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 November 10, 2006, plaintiff protectively filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") 86-88, 109). Plaintiff asserted that he became disabled on August 4, 2006, due to attention deficit disorder. (AR 113). The ALJ examined the medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, on January 21, 2009. (AR 16-46). A vocational expert and a third party witness also testified. (AR 29-45).

On March 2, 2009, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision. (AR 8-15). Specifically, the ALJ found:

(1) plaintiff suffered from the severe impairments of depressive disorder not otherwise specified and attention deficit disorder/learning dysfunction by history (AR 10); (2) plaintiff's impairments, considered singly or in combination, did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments (AR 11); (3) plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform "a full range of work at all exertional levels" with certain limitations (AR 12); (4) plaintiff could perform his*fn2 past relevant work as a welder and machinist (AR 14); and (5) the testimony of the third party witness was not entirely credible. (AR 14). The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's application for review. (AR 1-3).

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 disabled. If so, proceed to step three.

(3) Does the claimant's impairment, or combination of impairments, meet or equal an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1? If so, the ...


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