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Pattie A. Coxey v. Michael J. Astrue

September 29, 2011

PATTIE A. COXEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



ORDER

Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act. The parties' cross-motions for summary judgment motions are pending. For the reasons discussed below, the court grants the Commissioner's motion and denies plaintiff's motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff formally applied for DIB on January 14, 2003, alleging that she had been disabled since January 21, 2000. Administrative Record ("AR") 518. Plaintiff's application was denied, and she appealed the denial to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. Id. The district court remanded the case for further proceedings, finding that the administrative law judge ("ALJ") had improperly assessed the plaintiff's credibility and did not specifically discredited plaintiff's treating physician's opinion. Id. On April 28, 2009, a hearing was held before ALJ John J. Madden. Id. Plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified at the hearing. Id.

The ALJ's May 14, 2009 decision found that plaintiff was not disabled from the date of her application through the date last insured.*fn1 Id. at 518-25. The ALJ made the following specific findings:

1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on September 30, 2005.

2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity from her alleged onset date of January 21, 2000 through her date last insured of September 30, 2005 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.). ...

3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: fibromyalgia and low back pain (20 CFR 404.1520(c)). ...

4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526). ...

5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently, sit for six to eight hours per eight-hour work day, and stand and/or walk for up to six hours per eight-hour work day. The claimant is not able to perform frequent bending, stooping, climbing, crouching, or crawling....

6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was capable of performing past relevant work as an apartment manager. This work did not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565)....

7. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from January 21, 2000, the alleged onset date, through September 30, 2005, the date last insured (20 CFR 404.1520(f)).

Id. at 520-25.

The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. Id. at 515-517.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

The Commissioner's decision that a claimant is not disabled will be upheld if the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence in the record and the proper legal standards were applied. Schneider v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 223 F.3d 968, 973 (9th Cir. 2000); Morgan v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999); Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 1999).

The findings of the Commissioner as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, are conclusive. See Miller v. Heckler, 770 F.2d 845, 847 (9th Cir. 1985). Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Saelee v. Chater, 94 F.3d 520, 521 (9th Cir. 1996). "'It means such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'" Richardson ...


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