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Debra Munoz v. Michael J. Astrue

May 4, 2011

DEBRA MUNOZ,
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

Plaintiff Debra Munoz filed a Complaint on December 11, 2009. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties filed Consents to proceed before Magistrate Judge Rosenberg on January 4 and 19, 2010. (Dkt. Nos. 8, 9.) On August 19, 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 May 14, 2007, Munoz filed applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. Administrative Record ("AR") 9. She alleged a disability onset date of February 14, 1999. Id. The applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. Munoz requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 68. On June 16, 2009, an ALJ conducted a hearing at which Munoz and a vocational expert testified. AR 20-49. On July 30, 2009, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 6-19. On October 8, 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); Drouin v. Sullivan, 966 F.2d 1255, 1257 (9th Cir. 1992).

In this context, "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. Where the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Court must defer to the decision of the Commissioner. Moncada, 60 F.3d at 523.

III.

DISCUSSION

A. Disability

A person qualifies as disabled and is eligible for 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 ...


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