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Susana Meza v. Michael J. Astrue

April 18, 2011

SUSANA MEZA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Oswald Parada United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION; ORDER

The Court now rules as follows with respect to the disputed issues listed in *fn1 the Joint Stipulation ("JS").*fn2

I.DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, the disputed issues raised by Plaintiff as the grounds for reversal and/or remand are as follows:

(1) Whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly considered the opinions of the medical expert; and

(2) Whether the ALJ properly considered Plaintiff's testimony and the lay witness statement.

(JS at 3.)

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether the proper legal standards were applied. DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991). Substantial evidence means "more than a mere scintilla" but less than a preponderance. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S. Ct. 1420, 28 L. Ed. 2d 842 (1971); Desrosiers v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 846 F.2d 573, 575-76 (9th Cir. 1988). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401 (citation omitted). The Court must review the record as a whole and consider adverse as well as supporting evidence. Green v. Heckler, 803 F.2d 528, 529-30 (9th Cir. 1986). Where evidence is susceptible of more than one rational interpretation, the Commissioner's decision must be upheld. Gallant v. Heckler, 753 F.2d 1450, 1452 (9th Cir. 1984).

III. DISCUSSION

A. The ALJ's Findings.

The ALJ found that Plaintiff has the severe impairments of overactive bladder, depression, and anxiety. (Administrative Record ("AR") at 16.) The ALJ further found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform unskilled, nonpublic, and non-detailed medium work with the following limitations: occasional postural activities; no balancing, climbing ladders, or scaffolds; and no exposure to excessive odors, dust, fumes, and gases. (Id. at 17.)

Relying on the testimony of the vocational expert ("VE") to determine the extent to which Plaintiff's limitations eroded the unskilled medium occupational base, the ALJ asked the VE whether, in light of Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, she would be able to perform her past relevant work. (Id. at 24-25, 48.) Based on the testimony of the VE, the ALJ determined Plaintiff could perform the requirements of Plaintiff's past relevant work as an Order Selector (Dictionary of Occupational Titles ("DOT") No. 922.687-0589), and Shipping Clerk (DOT No. 222.387-050), both as actually performed by Plaintiff and as generally performed in the regional and national economy. (Id.)

B. The ALJ Properly Considered the Testimony of the Medical Expert.

Plaintiff argues that the ALJ failed to properly consider the testimony of the medical expert. Plaintiff concedes that the ALJ accurately summarized the evidence at issue, except to the extent that the ALJ rejected the medical expert's recommendation that Plaintiff be limited to lifting only twenty to forty pounds and have ...


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