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Lamont D. Carter v. Michael J. Astrue

August 4, 2011

LAMONT D. CARTER, 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

Lamont D. Carter filed this action on March 5, 2010. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before the magistrate judge on March 19 and April 7, 2010. (Dkt. Nos. 8-9.) On December 28, 2010, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") that addressed the disputed issue. The court has taken the matter under submission without oral argument.

Having reviewed the entire file, the court affirms the decision of the Commissioner.

I.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On April 30, 2007, Carter filed an application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits alleging disability beginning February 1, 2006. Administrative Record ("AR") 10. The application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 10. An Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") conducted a hearing on April 1, 2009, at which Carter, a medical expert, and a vocational expert ("VE") testified. AR 10, 17-38. On July 17, 2009, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 7-16. The Appeals Council denied Carter's request for review. AR 1-4. 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).

"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. When the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Court must defer to the Commissioner's decision. Moncada, 60 F.3d at 523.

III.

DISCUSSION

A. Disability

A person qualifies as disabled, and thereby eligible for such 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 ...


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