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Norman v. Astrue

November 23, 2010


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


On September 21, 2009, Leonard Norman ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant") filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for Supplemental Social Security income ("SSI") benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on March 30, 2010. On June 3, 2010, 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.


Plaintiff is a 48 year old male who was determined to have the medically determinable severe impairments of diabetes mellitus type II (insulin dependent), asthma, diabetic neuropathy, coronary artery disease, and arthritis of left acromioclavicular joint (status post arthroscopic surgery). (AR 14.) Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 16, 2001, the alleged onset date. (AR 14.)

Plaintiff's claim was denied initially on August 26, 2002, and on reconsideration on July 18, 2005. (AR 12.) She filed a timely request for hearing and a video hearing was held in San Bernardino, California, on March 14, 2007, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Henry M. Tai, presiding over the hearing from Honolulu, Hawaii. (AR 12.) Claimant appeared and testified. (AR 12.)

The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on June 25, 2007. (AR 12-21.) The ALJ thoroughly reviewed the medical evidence of record and concluded that Claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or equals any listing. (AR 17.) The ALJ then determined that the Claimant had the residual functional capacity ("RFC")*fn1 to sit for six hours of an eight hour workday, stand/walk for six hours out of an eight hour workday, and lift and carry 10 pounds frequently and 20 pounds occasionally. (AR 17.) The ALJ did impose certain limitations: Claimant is unable to use his left upper extremity for frequent overhead type of work, and is precluded from working with hazardous machinery and in extreme temperatures or in environments with extreme dust, chemicals or fumes. (AR 17.)

Claimant had no relevant past work. The ALJ, however, concluded at step five of the sequential process that Plaintiff can perform other jobs in the national economy (AR 20-21) and, therefore, is not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (AR 21.)

The Appeals Council denied review of the ALJ's decision on July 22, 2009. (AR 4-6.)


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

1. Whether the ALJ properly considered the consultative examiner's opinion.

2. Whether the ALJ made proper credibility findings regarding Plaintiff's pain testimony.

3. Whether the ALJ properly evaluated the type, dosage, effectiveness, and side effects of Plaintiff's medications in accordance with SSR 96-7p.

4. Whether the ALJ properly assessed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity.

5. Whether the ALJ should have obtained the testimony of a vocational expert.


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 ...

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