The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Jacqueline Chooljian United States Magistrate Judge
On September 16, 2009, plaintiff Robin Smith ("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; September 22, 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 January 20, 2005, plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Security Income benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") 524-26).*fn2 Plaintiff asserted that she became disabled on February 1, 1995, due to diabetes, arthritis, and depression. (AR 161). On March 21, 2007, the ALJ conducted a hearing ("Pre-Remand Hearing") and heard testimony from plaintiff, who was represented by counsel. (AR 409-18). On April 6, 2007, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled ("Pre-Remand Decision") (AR 12-17), and the Appeals Council denied review. (AR 5-7). On July 7, 2008, this Court remanded the case for further proceedings ("Remand Order"). (AR 481-92).
Following the remand, the ALJ conducted a hearing on February 26, 2009 ("Post-Remand Hearing"), at which he heard testimony from plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, and a vocational expert. (AR 430-45). On May 11, 2009, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision ("Post-Remand Decision"). (AR 422-29). Specifically, the ALJ found:
(1) plaintiff suffered from the severe impairments of "insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and a history of deep vein thrombosis with continued use of Coumadin" (AR 424); (2) plaintiff's impairments, considered singly or in combination, did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments (AR 426); (3) plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform medium work with certain restrictions (AR 426);*fn3 and (4) plaintiff was capable of performing her past relevant work. (AR 428). The Appeals Council did not review the ALJ's decision, and the Post-Remand Decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.1484(d).
III. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS
A. Sequential Evaluation Process
To qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must show that she 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 she 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 her ability to work? If not, the claimant is not ...