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Victor Sanchez-Rios, O.B.O. Maria I. Sanchez v. Michael J. Astrue

July 28, 2011

VICTOR SANCHEZ-RIOS, O.B.O. MARIA I. SANCHEZ
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Alicia G. Rosenberg United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Victor Sanchez-Rios ("Sanchez-Rios"), on behalf of Maria I. Sanchez ("Sanchez"), deceased,*fn1 filed a Complaint on May 10, 2010. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties filed Consents to proceed before Magistrate Judge Rosenberg on May 26 and June 18, 2010. (Dkt. Nos. 9, 10.) On December 6, 2010, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") that addressed the disputed issues. The Court has taken the matter under submission without oral argument.

Having reviewed the entire file, the Court remands this matter to the Commissioner for proceedings consistent with this opinion. ///

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On May 2, 2006, Sanchez filed an application for disability insurance benefits. Administrative Record ("AR") 25. She alleged a disability onset date of October 8, 2004. Id. The application was denied initially. Id. Sanchez requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 98. On September 11, 2007, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which Sanchez testified. AR 71-90. On November 7, 2007, the ALJ conducted a supplemental hearing at which a vocational expert ("VE") testified. AR 57-70. On January 14, 2008, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 19-31. On February 19, 2008, Sanchez requested that the Appeals Council review the decision denying benefits. AR 18. On March 26, 2010, the Appeals Council denied the request for review. AR 1-3. This action followed.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. The decision will be disturbed only if it is not supported by substantial evidence, or if it is based upon the application of improper legal standards. Moncada v. Chater, 60 F.3d 521, 523 (9th Cir. 1995); Drouin v. Sullivan, 966 F.2d 1255, 1257 (9th Cir. 1992).

In this context, "substantial evidence" means "more than a mere scintilla but less than a preponderance -- it is such relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support the conclusion." Moncada, 60 F.3d at 523. In determining whether substantial evidence exists to support the Commissioner's decision, the Court examines the administrative record as a whole, considering adverse as well as supporting evidence. Drouin, 966 F.2d at 1257. Where the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Court must defer to the decision of the Commissioner. Moncada, 60 F.3d at 523.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Disability

A person qualifies as disabled and is eligible for benefits, "only if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy." Barnhart v. Thomas, 540 U.S. 20, 21-22, 124 S. Ct. 376, 157 L. Ed. 2d 333 (2003).

B. The ALJ's Findings

The ALJ found that Sanchez met the insured status requirements through December 31, 2009. AR 27. Sanchez has the medically determinable severe impairments of cervical spine strain/sprain syndrome; cervical radiculopathy; right shoulder internal derangement; right elbow tendonitis; and lumbar spine discopathy. Id. She has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work with the following additional restrictions: "unable to perform overhead reaching; unable to perform repetitive activities with the upper extremities; unable to perform repetitive bending and stooping; and with the dominant, right upper extremity, unable to perform repetitive gripping and grasping activities." Id. The ALJ found that Sanchez was ...


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