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J. P. By and Through His Guardian Ad Litem Lorenza Ramirez v. Michael J. Astrue

May 31, 2011

J. P. BY AND THROUGH HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM LORENZA RAMIREZ, 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 THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY PROCEEDINGS

On July 30, 2010, Plaintiff J.P., by and through his guardian ad litem, Lorenza Ramirez, filed a complaint seeking review of the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for Social Security child survivor benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on February 3, 2011. On May 16, 2011, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS"). The matter is now ready for decision.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties consented to proceed before this Magistrate Judge. 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

Claimant Jevon A. Pratt ("Claimant" or "Plaintiff" or "J.P.") is stated to be the minor child of the deceased wage earner, Jerome Anthony Pratt. The application for survivor's benefits filed on his behalf was denied initially on June 14, 2006, and on reconsideration on August 10, 2006. (AR 16.) Claimant's mother, Lorenza Ramirez, then timely requested a hearing. She failed to appear for a hearing scheduled on July 10, 2007, because she was ill but appeared and testified at a hearing held on January 14, 2008, in Pasadena, California. (AR 16.) She was not represented by counsel. (AR 16.)

Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Richard Urban issued a decision on January 24, 2008, finding that J.P. is not entitled to Social Security survivor's benefits. (AR 16-19.) The Appeals Council denied the request for review on April 28, 2010. (AR 6-10.)

DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, the only issue Plaintiff raises as a ground for reversal and remand is as follows:

1. Whether the ALJ properly considered application of California law to the issue of paternity presented.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 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 must be supported by substantial evidence and based on the proper legal standards).

Substantial evidence means "'more than a mere scintilla' . . . but less than a preponderance." Saelee v. Chater, 94 F.3d 520, 521-22 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401 (internal quotations and citation omitted).

This Court must review the record as a whole and consider adverse as well as supporting evidence. Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006). Where evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the ALJ's decision must be upheld. Morgan v. Comm'r, 169 F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999). "However, a reviewing court must consider the entire record as a whole and may not affirm simply by isolating a 'specific quantum of supporting evidence.'" Robbins, 466 F.3d at ...


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