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Reyes M. Juarez v. Michael J. Astrue

August 26, 2011

REYES M. JUAREZ, 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

Reyes Juarez ("Juarez") filed this action on July 27, 2010. (Dkt. No. 3.) Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before the magistrate judge on August 9 and 10, 2010. (Dkt. Nos. 7, 9.) On May 31, 2011, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") that addressed the disputed issues. (Dkt. No. 19.) 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 January 16, 2001, Juarez filed an application for supplemental security income benefits, alleging an onset date of February 16, 1998.*fn1 Administrative Record ("AR") 100-02. The application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 68, 74. On August 20, 2001, Juarez requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 78. On July 24, 2002, an ALJ conducted a hearing at which Juarez, a vocational expert, a medical expert and Juarez's wife testified. AR 26-60. On August 22, 2002, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 16-23. On November 19, 2003, the Appeals Council denied the request for review.*fn2 AR 4-6.

Juarez filed a complaint in this court on January 26, 2004, requesting review of the Commissioner's decision. Case No. EDCV 04-51 JWJ. On September 16, 2004, the parties stipulated to an Order remanding the action to the Commissioner for further administrative proceedings. AR 340-43. The parties agreed that on remand, the Commissioner would re-examine Juarez's residual functional capacity ("RFC") and consider the lay witness testimony of his wife. AR 341. On September 16, 2004, the court entered a Judgment of Remand. AR 344-46.

On November 29, 2004, the Appeals Council vacated the ALJ's August 22, 2002 decision and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with the court's Judgment of Remand. AR 350-51. The Appeals Council indicated Juarez had filed an additional application for supplemental security income on May 7, 2004. AR 351. The Appeals Council therefore consolidated the May 7, 2004 application for benefits with the January 16, 2001 application, and ordered the ALJ to issue a new decision on the consolidated claims. Id.

An ALJ conducted a remand hearing on July 1, 2005, at which Juarez testified. AR 748-766. A supplemental hearing was held on November 17, 2005 at which a vocational expert testified. AR 767-76. On March 31, 2006, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 317-26.

On June 26, 2006, Juarez filed a complaint in this court, requesting review of the Commissioner's decision. Case No. EDCV 06-612 CW. On July 6, 2009, the court remanded the case for further proceedings. AR 800-14.

On November 16, 2009, a hearing was held before an ALJ at which Juarez, a vocational expert and a medical expert testified. AR 1080-95. The ALJ issued a decision denying benefits on May 12, 2010. AR 780-99. This action followed.

II.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 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 ...


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