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Griffin v. Astrue

September 7, 2010

CYNTHIA GRIFFIN, 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 THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY PROCEEDINGS

On March 4, 2009, Cynthia Griffin ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant") filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on June 9, 2009. On September 23, 2009, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS"). The matter is now ready for decision.

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

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a 54 year old female who was found to have the medically determinable severe impairments of mild right-side carpal tunnel syndrome and obesity. (AR 476.) Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 15, 2003, the alleged onset date. (Id.)

Plaintiff's claim for SSI benefits was denied initially on April 16, 2004, and on reconsideration on July 2, 2004. (AR 21, 34, 39.) She filed a timely request for a hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Eric V. Benham on February 23, 2005, in Long Beach, California. (AR 197-240.)

The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on February 25, 2005. (AR 10-13.) Plaintiff filed a timely Request for Review of Hearing Decision and the Appeals Council denied review on May 4, 2005. (AR 3-5.)

On July 11, 2005, Plaintiff filed an appeal in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Case No. CV 05-4816-JWJ. On September 30, 2006, the District Court remanded the case to the Commissioner. (AR 258-279.) On November 18, 2006, the Appeals Council remanded the case to the ALJ. (AR 280-282.)

On May 16, 2007, a supplemental hearing was held before ALJ Alexander Weir III. (AR 419-469.) On July 9, 2007, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. (AR 241-256.) Plaintiff filed another appeal in the Central District, Case No. CV 07-5969-JWJ. Thereafter, the parties stipulated to a voluntary remand pursuant to sentence four, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (AR 490-492.) The parties agreed that, upon remand, "[t]he ALJ will evaluate the relevant treating and examining source opinions, including the opinion evidence provided by . . . Nathan E. Lavid, M.D.," as well as other medical opinions. (AR 491.)

Following remand, a hearing was held on September 4, 2008, in Los Angeles, California, before ALJ David Agatstein. (AR 566-591.) Plaintiff appeared and testified at the hearing. (AR 569-574.) Medical experts Steven B. Gerber, M.D., and Glen A.E. Griffin, Ph.D., and vocational expert ("VE") Heidi Paul also appeared and testified. (AR 575-590.)

On December 1, 2008, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. (AR 470-486.) Thereafter, Plaintiff commenced the present action.

DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, the disputed issues that Plaintiff raises as grounds ...


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