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Cynthia Bell v. Michael J. Astrue

June 29, 2011

CYNTHIA BELL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Frederick F. Mumm United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

Plaintiff brings this action seeking to overturn the decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying her application for Supplemental Security Income benefits. On October 20, 2010 and November 2, 2010, plaintiff and defendant, respectively, consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Pursuant to the Case Management Order entered on October 13, 2010, on June 9, 2011, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation detailing each party's arguments and authorities. The Court has reviewed the administrative record (the "AR"), filed by defendant on April 7, 2011, and the Joint Stipulation. For the reasons stated below, the decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On March 25, 2008, plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Security Income benefits. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ"). ALJ Sharilyn Hopson held a hearing on March 2, 2010. (AR 19-55.) Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at the hearing.

On May 28, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. (AR 6-18.) Plaintiff sought review of the decision before the Social Security Administration Appeals Council. On August 31, 2010, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review. (AR 1-3.)

Plaintiff filed her complaint herein on October 7, 2010.

CONTENTIONS

Plaintiff raises three issues in this action:

1. Whether the ALJ erred properly considered the treating psychiatrist's opinion;

2. Whether the ALJ provided a complete and proper assessment of plaintiff's residual functional capacity; and

3. Whether the ALJ posed a complete hypothetical question to the vocational expert.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. ยง 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. Secretary 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. This 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 to more than one rational interpretation, the Commissioner's decision must be upheld. Gallant v. Heckler, 753 F.2d 1450, 1452 (9th Cir. 1984). However, even if substantial evidence exists ...


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