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Pamela J. Roberts v. Michael J. Astrue

August 9, 2011

PAMELA J. ROBERTS, 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

Pamela J. Roberts ("Roberts") filed this action on April 15, 2010. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before the magistrate judge on June 18 and August 17, 2010. (Dkt. Nos. 5, 7.) On January 25, 2001, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") that addressed the disputed issues. The Court has taken the matter under submission without oral argument. The decision of the Commissioner is affirmed.

I.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On November 14, 2007, Roberts filed an application for disability insurance benefits alleging a disability onset date of July 1, 2007. Administrative Record ("AR") 14. The application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 14. Roberts requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 14. On October 22, 2009, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which Roberts and a vocational expert testified. AR 14, 29-52. On December 9, 2009, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 14-24. On March 12, 2010, the Appeals Council denied the request for review. AR 1-5. 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 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 Roberts met the insured status requirements through June 30, 2011. AR 16. Roberts has the following severe combination of impairments: "asthma, osteoporosis, and stomach problems (possibly irritable bowel syndrome)." AR 16. The ALJ found Roberts had the residual functional capacity to perform light work, i.e., to lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently, stand and/or walk for 6 hours out of an 8-hour workday, and sit for 6 hours out of an 8-hour workday, but could only occasionally stoop, bend, crouch, kneel, crawl, squat, and climb ladders and was precluded from fumes, dusts, gases, odors, and ...


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