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LORRAINE LONIAN v. MICHAEL J. ASTRUE

November 24, 2010

LORRAINE LONIAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

I. SUMMARY On April 21, 2010, plaintiff Lorraine Lonian ("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.

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

MEMORANDUM OPINION

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; April 26, 2010 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 August 10, 2006, plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Security Income benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") 59-61). Plaintiff asserted that she became disabled on July 24, 1991, due to a dislocated left shoulder, back problems, a "mass on right side," and hypertension. (AR 88). The ALJ examined the medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, on June 19, 2008. (AR 18-26).

On August 14, 2008, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision. (AR 10-16). Specifically, the ALJ found:

(1) plaintiff suffered from the following severe combination of impairments: poorly controlled hypertension without end organ disease; history of uterine fibroids, status post uterine artery embolization; history of left shoulder dislocation; back pain; multiple joint pain; and cocaine abuse and dependence, in remission by history with mild substance induced mood disorder (AR 12); (2) plaintiff's impairments, considered singly or in combination, did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments (AR 13); (3) plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform light work "except frequent climbing, balancing, stooping, crouching, kneeling, or crawling and avoiding exposure to hazards such as unprotected heights and dangerous machinery" (AR 13); (4) plaintiff has no past relevant work (AR 15); and (5) there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff can perform (AR 15). 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 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 ...


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