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Pamela Young v. Michael J. Astrue

July 6, 2011

PAMELA YOUNG,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Stephen J. Hillman United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

This matter is before the court for review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security denying plaintiff's application for Supplemental Security Income. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties have consented that the case may be handled by the undersigned. The action arises under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), which authorizes the Court to enter judgment upon the pleadings and transcript of the record before the Commissioner. Plaintiff and defendant have filed their pleadings (Memorandum in Support of Plaintiff's Complaint ["Plaintiff's Brief"]; Defendant's Brief with Points and Authorities ["Defendant's Brief"], and Plaintiff's Reply to Defendant's Brief and the defendant has filed the certified transcript of record. After reviewing the matter, the Court concludes that the decision of the Commissioner should be affirmed.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, Pamela Young, initially submitted an application for Supplemental Security Income on March 16, 2006, alleging an inability to work since December 10, 2004, due to a disability. The claim was initially denied on September 27, 2006, and upon reconsideration on April 24, 2007. [A.R. 34.] Plaintiff filed a timely written request for a hearing before the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). [A.R. 34.] Plaintiff appeared and testified at a hearing held on March 4, 2008 in San Bernardino, CA.

The ALJ issued an unfavorable opinion on May 9, 2008 [A.R. 31.] The ALJ found the following severe impairments: depressive disorder, not otherwise specified, anxiety disorder, not otherwise specified; a psychophysiological reaction to a physical condition under 12.07; and a history of bradycardia syndrome, disorder status post pacemaker. [A.R. 36.] However, the ALJ did not find plaintiff disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act.

Following the denial, plaintiff filed a subsequent application for Supplemental Security Income on May 20, 2008, alleging an inability to work since May 10, 2008, due to enlarged heart, status-post pacemaker implantation, shortness of breath, and back pain.

The claim was denied initially on October 24, 2008, and upon reconsideration on February 29, 2009. [A.R. 47-51, 53-57.] Plaintiff filed a timely written request for a hearing before the ALJ [A.R. 52.] Plaintiff appeared and testified at a hearing held on April 16, 2010 in San Bernardino, CA.

The ALJ determined that plaintiff has the following severe impairment: hypertension with history of bradycardia, status post pacemaker implantation. However, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. [A.R. 11.]

Following the Appeals Council's denial of plaintiff's request for a review to the hearing decision [A.R. 1-3], plaintiff filed an action in this Court.

Plaintiff makes five challenges to the 2010 Decision denying disability benefits for the period after May 10, 2008. Plaintiff alleges the ALJ erred in (1) failing to consider the State agency doctor's opinion, (2) finding that plaintiff did not have a severe mental impairment, (3) failing to provide a complete and accurate assessment of plaintiff's residual function capacity, (4) failing to provide clear and convincing evidence of his credibility finding, and (5) failing to obtain vocational expert testimony.

For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that the decision of the ALJ should be affirmed.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Standard of Review

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine whether it is free from legal error and supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. See Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence must be more than a mere scintilla, but not need be more than a preponderance. See Connet v. Barnhard, 340 F.3d 871 (9th Cir. 2003). This Court cannot disturb the Commissioner's findings if those findings are supported by substantial evidence, even though other evidence may exist to support plaintiff's claim. See Torske v. Richardson, 484 F.2d 59, 60 (9th Cir. 1979), cert. denied, Torske v. Weinberger, 417 U.S. 933 (1974).

B. Plaintiff's Claims

a. The ALJ properly considered the opinion of the State ...


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