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Monica L. Welsh v. Michael J. Astrue

August 22, 2011

MONICA L. WELSH, 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

Monica Welsh ("Welsh") filed this action on September 8, 2009. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before the magistrate judge on September 21 and October 7, 2009. (Dkt. Nos. 6, 7.) On May 23, 2011, Welsh filed a Motion for Summary Judgment ("Motion"). On June 22, 2011, the Commissioner filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. 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 May 18, 1999, Welsh filed an application for disability insurance benefits alleging a disability onset date of October 23, 1997. Administrative Record ("AR") 17. The application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 44. Welsh requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 44. On September 7, 2000, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which Welsh testified. AR 694-709. On September 26, 2000, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 44-49. On November 25, 2005, the Appeals Council vacated the decision and remanded the case for additional development and proceedings, and a new decision. AR 17-18. On November 7, 2006, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which Welsh testified. AR 722-54. On February 23, 2007, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 17-26. On July 30, 2009, the Appeals Council denied Welsh's request for review. AR 7-9. 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 Welsh met the insured status requirements through ...


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