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Huynh v. Astrue

September 20, 2010

THANG D. HUYNH, 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 REVERSING DECISION OF COMMISSIONER AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

On August 12, 2009, Thang D. Huynh ("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") disability benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on January 12, 2010. On April 29, 2010, 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 this Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record ("AR"), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision should be reversed and remanded for further proceedings in accordance with law and with this Memorandum Opinion and Order.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a 49 year old male who was determined to have the medically determinable severe physical impairments of non-insulin diabetes mellitus with peripheral neuropathy, hypertension, and obesity. (AR 15.) He has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 7, 2007, the filing date of his current SSI application. (AR 15.)

Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. (AR 13.) He filed a timely request for hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") James D. Goodman on November 20, 2008. (AR 13.) Claimant appeared and testified through a Vietnamese interpreter. Claimant was represented by counsel.

The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on February 25, 2009. (AR 13-20.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity ("RFC")*fn1 to perform his prior work as a fish cleaner and self-employed salvager, and thus was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (AR 19.) The Claimant appealed this decision and, on June 25, 2009, the Appeals Council denied review. (AR 1-4.)

DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, the disputed issues that Plaintiff is raising as grounds for reversal and remand are as follows:

1. Whether the ALJ properly found that Claimant did not suffer from a severe mental impairment.

2. Whether the ALJ properly determined that Claimant could perform his past relevant work.

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). The ALJ has the responsibility "to determine credibility, resolve conflicts in medical testimony and resolve ambiguities," but the ALJ's findings must be supported by "specific, cogent reasons." Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 722 (9th Cir. 1998.) A reviewing court must consider the entire record as a whole and may not ...


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