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Garabet Alexan Daniel v. Michael J. Astrue

August 9, 2011

GARABET ALEXAN DANIEL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Mcdermott United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REVERSING DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

PROCEEDINGS

On July 7, 2010, Garabet Alexan Daniel ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant" or "Daniel") filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's applications for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer to the Complaint on January 13, 2011. On July 21, 2011, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS").

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties consented to proceed before the undersigned Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record ("AR"), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision shouldbe reversed and remanded for further proceedings in accordance with this Memorandum Opinion and Order and with law.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Daniel is a 48 year old male who filed applications for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income benefits on November 27, 2006, alleging disability beginning December 20, 2005. (AR 11.) Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since that date. (AR 13.)

Plaintiff's claims were denied initially on March 29, 2007. (AR 11.) Plaintiff filed a timely request for a hearing, which was held on August 26, 2008, in Pasadena, California, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") James D. Goodman. (AR 11-21.) Plaintiff appeared and testified. (AR 11.) Plaintiff was represented by counsel. (AR 11.) The ALJ issued a decision denying benefits on September 25, 2008. (AR 11-21.)

Subsequent to the ALJ's decision, Plaintiff was found disabled as of October 31, 2008, the date of a subsequent application. (AR 2.) Plaintiff then requested review of the September 25, 2008, decision on his first application. (AR 7.) The Appeals Council, however, denied Plaintiff's request for review on April 27, 2010. (AR 1-3.) The Appeals Council stated that it had considered the October 31, 2008, grant of benefits on the second application but found that it did not warrant a change in the September 25, 2008, ALJ decision on the first application. (AR 2.)

DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, the issues Plaintiff raises as grounds for reversal and remand are as follows:

1. Whether remand is warranted for consideration of onset pursuant to Social Security Ruling 83-20.

2. Whether remand is warranted for the ALJ's failure to properly consider the severity of Plaintiff's mental impairment.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the ALJ's decision to determine whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence and free of legal error. Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see also DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991) (ALJ's disability determination must be supported by substantial evidence and based on the proper legal standards).

Substantial evidence means "'more than a mere scintilla,' but less than a preponderance." Saelee v. Chater, 94 F.3d 520, 521-22 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

This Court must review the record as a whole and consider adverse as well as supporting evidence. Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006). Where evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the ALJ's decision must be upheld. Morgan v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999). "However, a reviewing court must consider the entire record as a whole and may not affirm simply by isolating a 'specific quantum of supporting evidence.'" Robbins, 466 ...


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