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Matthew J. Hernandez v. Michael J. Astrue

July 20, 2011

MATTHEW J. HERNANDEZ, 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 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 assessed Plaintiff's credibility;

(2) Whether the ALJ erred by rejecting the treating source opinion in favor of a consulting physician; and

(3) Whether the ALJ erred by finding that Plaintiff's non-exertional impairments of fatigue and depression were not severe impairments.(JS at 3.)

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 unicentric Castleman Disease, status post*fn3partial resection and removal of mesenteric mass, which imposes more than a minimal restriction on his ability to perform basic work activities, and thus is a severe impairment. (Administrative Record ("AR") at 19f.) Additionally, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the medically determinable but not severe impairments of depression, lumbar radiculopathy, and anemia. (Id.) The ALJ also found that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform a full range of medium level work. (Id. at 19g.) Relying on the testimony of a vocational expert ("VE"), the ALJ determined that Plaintiff could perform occupations such as hand packer (Dictionary of Occupational Titles ("DOT") No. 920.587-018) or kitchen helper (DOT No. 318.687-010), both of which exist in significant numbers in the national economy. (AR at 19j.) Thus, the ALJ concluded the Plaintiff was not disabled. (Id.)

B. Whether the ALJ Properly Assessed Plaintiff's Credibility.

Plaintiff contends that the ALJ erred by failing to provide specific reasons for discrediting his testimony. (JS at 3.) Plaintiff argues that the ALJ did not develop the record because she failed to use the factors an adjudicator may ...


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