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Richard R. Alvarado v. Michael J. Astrue

April 14, 2011

RICHARD R. ALVARADO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Richard R. Alvarado filed this action on May 14, 2010. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before Magistrate Judge Rosenberg on May 21 and June 18, 2010. (Dkt. Nos. 8-9.) On December 22, 2010, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") that addresses 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 December 8, 2006, Alvarado filed an application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits alleging disability beginning September 15, 2006. Administrative Record ("AR") 14. The application was denied initially. AR 14. An Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") conducted a hearing on June 25, 2008, at which Alvarado and a vocational expert testified. AR 32-47. On July 25, 2008, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 14-19. The Appeals Council denied Alvarado's request for review. AR 1-4. 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); 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).

B. The ALJ's Findings

Alvarado has the following severe impairments: "degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine with scoliosis and radiculopathy; and obesity." AR 16. The ALJ found that Alvarado had the residual functional capacity to perform light work "except for a requirement for the option to alternate sitting and standing at will to relieve discomfort." Id. The ALJ found that Alvarado was able to perform jobs ...


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