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Diego A. Muniz v. Michael J. Astrue

August 31, 2011

DIEGO A. MUNIZ, 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

Diego A. Muniz filed this action on September 3, 2010. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before Magistrate Judge Rosenberg on October 7, and 15, 2010. (Dkt. Nos. 10, 11.) On June 2, 2011, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") that addressed the disputed issues. 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

Muniz received child's disability benefits. Administrative Record ("AR") 150-55, 207-10. After Muniz turned 18 years old, the Social Security Administration reevaluated his eligibility for disability benefits as an adult and determined he was not eligible. Muniz received benefits until March 31, 2006. AR 144-47. Upon reconsideration, he was again found ineligible. AR 123-39. Muniz requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 119. After Muniz failed to appear for his hearing, the ALJ issued an order of dismissal. AR 87-88. Muniz requested Appeals Council review of the dismissal and alleged he never received notice of the hearing. AR 81. On July 2, 2009, the Appeals Council granted the request for review and remanded the case to the ALJ. AR 68-71.

On January 27, 2010, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which Muniz, a medical expert and a vocational expert testified. AR 570-608. On April 22, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 8-18. On July 16, 2010, the Appeals Council denied Muniz's request for review. AR 3-5. 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. ...


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