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Ubaldo R. Orellana Batres v. Michael J. Astrue

January 19, 2011

UBALDO R. ORELLANA BATRES, 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

PROCEEDINGS

On January 7, 2010, Ubaldo R. Orellana Batres ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant") filed a Complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act. On July 23, 2010, the Commissioner filed an Answer to the Complaint. On October 4, 2010, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") setting forth their positions and the issues in dispute.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties consented to proceed before the undersigned Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record ("AR"), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision shouldbe reversed and remanded for further proceedings in accordance with law and with this Memorandum Opinion and Order.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was born on August 5, 1965, and was 42 years old on his alleged disability onset date of October 5, 2007. (AR 84.) Plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits on or about February 14, 2008. (AR 12, 84-86.) Plaintiff claims he is disabled due to diabetic neuropathy and fibromyalgia. (AR 118.) Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 4, 2007. (AR 16, 103.)

Plaintiff's claim was denied initially on May 16, 2008 (AR 43-47), and on reconsideration on September 23, 2008. (AR 49-53.) Plaintiff filed a timely request for hearing on October 2, 2008. (AR 54-55.) Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing held on April 29, 2009, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Robert Evans. (AR 21-40.) The ALJ issued a decision denying benefits on July 7, 2009. (AR 12-17.) On August 24, 2009, Plaintiff filed a timely request for review of the ALJ's decision. (AR 8.) The Appeals Council denied review on November 6, 2009. (AR 2-4.) Plaintiff then commenced the present action.

DISPUTED ISSUE

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, there is one disputed issue: whether the ALJ properly considered Plaintiff's subjective symptom testimony. (JS at 3.)

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 free of legal error. Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see also DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991) (ALJ's disability determination must be supported by substantial evidence and based on the proper legal standards).

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 quotation marks and citation 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 of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 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 supporting evidence.'" Robbins, 466 ...


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