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Steve D. Johnson v. Michael J. Astrue

June 17, 2011

STEVE D. JOHNSON, 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*fn1the Joint Stipulation ("JS").*fn2

I.

DISPUTED ISSUE

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 treating physician's opinion; and

(2) Whether the ALJ properly found at step five of the disability analysis that Plaintiff was capable of performing alternative work.

(JS at 6.)

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 following severe combination of impairments: hypertension; chronic kidney disease, stage 3; diabetes mellitus, type 2; obesity; and ischemic heart disease, class II. (AR at 14.) The ALJ also found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform a limited range of light work with the following limitations: he is able to lift and/or carry twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently; stand and/or walk for two hours, with the use of a cane as needed; sit for eight hours in an eight-hour workday; and perform only simple repetitive tasks. (Id. at 15.) Plaintiff cannot climb ladders, work at heights, or balance, but he can climb stairs. (Id.) Finally, Plaintiff's work environment must be air-conditioned, and he is precluded from reading and writing complicated material. (Id.) Relying on the testimony of the vocational expert ("VE"), the ALJ found that Plaintiff could not perform his past relevant work as a cleaner but was capable of performing alternative work as a bench assembler (Dictionary of Occupational Titles ("DOT") 706.684-022) and an information clerk (DOT 237.367-018). (AR at 22-23.)

B. Treating Physician.

1. Background.

Plaintiff contends that the ALJ failed to properly consider the opinions of his treating physician M. Rahmi Mowjood, D.O., or to provide specific and legitimate reasons, supported by substantial ...


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