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Mary Equihua v. Michael J. Astrue

January 28, 2011

MARY EQUIHUA, 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 AFFIRMING DECISION OF COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY

PROCEEDINGS

On February 4, 2010, Mary Equihua ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant") filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on August 4, 2010. On November 2, 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.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a 59 year old female who alleges disability due to diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritic pain, history of surgery of carpal tunnel release, swelling in hands and knees, and depression (AR 97.) Plaintiff filed an application on November 7, 2006, alleging disability beginning October 15, 2006. (AR 8.)

Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and on reconsideration on March 23, 2007. (AR 8.) Plaintiff filed a timely request for hearing, which was held on August 12, 2008, in San Bernardino, California, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Mason D. Harrell Jr. (AR 8.) Plaintiff appeared and testified and was represented by counsel. (AR 8.) Also appearing and testifying were Stephen M. Berry, a vocational expert ("VE"), and Juan Equihua, the Claimant's husband. (AR 8.)

On September 22, 2008, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. (AR 8-16.) The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on December 7, 2009. (AR 1-3.)

DISPUTED ISSUES

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

1. Whether the ALJ properly considered the treating physician's opinion..

2. Whether the ALJ posed a complete hypothetical question to the vocational expert.

3. Whether the ALJ properly assessed Plaintiff's capability of performing the jobs of medical receptionist and admitting clerk.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. ยง 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 ...


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