The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Sheri Pym United States Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
On September 15, 2010, plaintiff Mario Gutierrez filed a complaint against defendant Michael J. Astrue, seeking a review of a denial of disability insurance benefits ("DIB"), and supplemental security income ("SSI"). Docket No. 1. Both plaintiff and defendant have consented to proceed for all purposes before the Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Docket Nos. 15, 16.
Pursuant to a September 17, 2010 case management order, the parties submitted a detailed, 20-page joint stipulation for decision on May 17, 2011. Docket No. 19. The court deems the matter suitable for adjudication without oral argument.
In sum, having carefully studied, inter alia, the parties' joint stipulation and the administrative record, the court concludes that, as detailed herein, there is substantial evidence in the record, taken as a whole, to support the decision of the Administrate Law Judge ("ALJ"). Therefore, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision denying benefits.
II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff, who was sixty years old on the date of his November 20, 2009 administrative hearing, has a high school education and a law degree from Mexico. See Administrative Record ("AR") at 25, 28, 142, 160. His past relevant work includes employment as a truck driver. Id. at 29, 156, 202.
On February 20, 2008, plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI, alleging that he has been disabled since February 2, 2007 due to rectal fistula. See AR at 15, 46, 135-39, 155. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration, after which he filed a request for a hearing. Id. at 42, 43, 44, 45, 46-50, 51, 52-56, 57.
On November 20, 2009, plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared and testified at a hearing before the ALJ. AR at 25, 28-39, 41. On January 5, 2010, the ALJ denied plaintiff's request for benefits. Id. at 15-24.
Applying the well-known five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found, at step one, that plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date of disability. AR at 17.
At step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff suffers from severe impairments consisting of "impairments of the gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal systems." AR at 17 (emphasis omitted).
At step three, the ALJ determined that the evidence does not demonstrate that plaintiff's impairments, either individually or in combination, meet or medically equal the severity of any listing set forth in the Social Security regulations.*fn1 AR at 19.
The ALJ then assessed plaintiff's residual functional capacity*fn2 ("RFC") and determined that he can perform medium work. Specifically, the ALJ found that plaintiff can: "lift and/or carry 25 pounds frequently and 50 pounds occasionally"; and "occasionally perform postural activities including bending, stooping, squatting, crouching, crawling, and kneeling from one-third to two-third in a normal eight-hour workday." AR at 19 (emphasis omitted).
The ALJ found, at step four, that plaintiff is capable of performing past relevant work as a truck driver. AR at 23. Thus, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not suffering from a disability as defined by the Act. Id. at 15, 24.
Plaintiff filed a timely request for review of the ALJ's decision, which was denied by the Appeals Council. AR at 1-3, 7. The ALJ's decision stands as ...