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Jacquelyn Sue Marshall v. Michael J. Astrue

September 29, 2011

JACQUELYN SUE MARSHALL, 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

Jacquelyn Sue Marshall filed this action on November 4, 2010. (Dkt. No. 3.) Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before the magistrate judge on December 3 and 7, 2010. (Dkt. Nos. 8, 9.) On June 20, 2011, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") that addressed the disputed issues. (Dkt. No. 16.) The court has taken the matter under submission without oral argument. The decision of the Commissioner is affirmed. I.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On September 25, 2007, Marshall filed an application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits. Administrative Record ("AR") 10. In both applications, Marshall alleged an onset date of January 1, 2007. AR 108-16. The applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 54-58, 63-68. On October 10, 2008, Marshall requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 69. The ALJ conducted a hearing on December 9, 2009, at which Marshall and a vocational expert testified. AR 21-49. On March 17, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 7-20. On September 19, 2010, the Appeals Council denied the request for review. AR 1-3. 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. ALJ's Findings

The ALJ found that Marshall had the severe impairment of obesity. AR 12. Marshall's impairment neither met nor was medically equivalent to a listed impairment. AR 13. Marshall had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work except that she can lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. Id. In an 8-hour workday, she could stand and walk for 2 hours and sit for 6 hours. Id. She could not work at unprotected heights or in ...


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