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Sheila Reedus v. Michael J. Astrue

March 8, 2011

SHEILA REEDUS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Alicia G. Rosenberg United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Sheila Reedus filed this action on October 21, 2009. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before Magistrate Judge Rosenberg on November 23 and December 3, 2009. (Dkt. Nos. 8, 9.) On July 2, 2010, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") that addressed the disputed issues. The Court has taken the matter under submission without oral argument.

Having reviewed the entire file, the Court affirms the decision of the Commissioner.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On September 11, 2007, Reedus filed an application for disability and disability insurance benefits. Administrative Record ("AR") 7. Reedus alleged a disability onset date of September 1, 2003. Id. The application was denied initially. AR 7, 50-54. Reedus requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 55-56. On November 13, 2008, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which Reedus, a lay witness, and a vocational expert testified. AR 15-48. On May 27, 2009, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 4-11. On June 30, 2009, Reedus requested that the Appeals Council review the decision denying benefits. AR 12. On August 25, 2009, the Appeals Council denied the request for review. AR 1-3. This action followed.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. The decision will be disturbed only if it is not supported by substantial evidence, or if it is based upon the application of improper legal standards. Moncada v. Chater, 60 F.3d 521, 523 (9th Cir. 1995) (per curiam); Drouin v. Sullivan, 966 F.2d 1255, 1257 (9th Cir. 1992).

"Substantial evidence" means "more than a mere scintilla but less than a preponderance -- it is such relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support the conclusion." Moncada, 60 F.3d at 523. In determining whether substantial evidence exists to support the Commissioner's decision, the Court examines the administrative record as a whole, considering adverse as well as supporting evidence. Drouin, 966 F.2d at 1257. When the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Court must defer to the Commissioner's decision. Moncada, 60 F.3d at 523.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Disability

A person qualifies as disabled, and thereby eligible for such benefits, "only if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy." Barnhart v. Thomas, 540 U.S. 20, 21-22, 124 S. Ct. 376, 157 L. Ed. 2d 333 (2003) (citation and quotation marks omitted).

B. The ALJ's Findings

The ALJ found that Reedus last met the insured status requirements on September 30, 2003, the date she was last insured. AR 9.

Reedus had the medically determinable impairment of viral syndrome. AR 9. The ALJ found that through September 30, 2003, Reedus did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that significantly limited her ability to perform basic work related activities for 12 consecutive months. Id. The ALJ therefore ...


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