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Christiane Liggett v. Michael J. Astrue

July 20, 2011

CHRISTIANE LIGGETT, 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*fn1 the Joint Stipulation ("JS").*fn2

I.

DISPUTED ISSUES

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 found the existence of past relevant work; and

(2) Whether the ALJ properly assessed Plaintiff's credibility. (JS at 4.)

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 a history of right ankle fractures with findings of reflex sympathetic dystrophy and chronic left ankle pain, which*fn3 imposes more than a minimal restriction on her ability to perform basic work activities, and thus is a severe impairment. (Administrative Record ("AR") at 19.) Additionally, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's right rotator cuff injury is a non-severe impairment. (Id.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform a full range of sedentary level work with the following limitations: occasional kneeling, crouching, stooping, and use of a cane for prolonged walking. (Id. at 20.) Relying on the testimony of a vocational expert ("VE"), the ALJ determined that Plaintiff could perform her past relevant work as Tutor (Dictionary of Occupational Titles ("DOT") No. 099.227-034) or Teacher Aid (DOT No. 323.687-014) that exist in significant numbers in the national economy. (AR at 23.) The ALJ also relied on the VE's testimony to ...


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