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Dianne Gaddie v. Michael J. Astrue

November 9, 2011

DIANNE GADDIE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Oswald Parada United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

The Court now rules as follows with respect to the three disputed issues*fn1 listed in the Joint Stipulation ("JS").*fn2

I. DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, the disputed issues raised by Plaintiff as the grounds for reversal and/or remand are as follows:

(1) Whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly considered Listing 1.02A;

(2) Whether the ALJ properly considered Listing 1.03; and

(3) Whether the ALJ properly considered lay witness statements. (JS at 3.)*fn3

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether the proper legal standards were applied. DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991). Substantial evidence means "more than a mere scintilla" but less than a preponderance. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S. Ct. 1420, 28 L. Ed. 2d 842 (1971); Desrosiers v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 846 F.2d 573, 575-76 (9th Cir. 1988). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401 (citation omitted). The Court must review the record as a whole and consider adverse as well as supporting evidence. Green v. Heckler, 803 F.2d 528, 529-30 (9th Cir. 1986). Where evidence is susceptible of more than one rational interpretation, the Commissioner's decision must be upheld. Gallant v. Heckler, 753 F.2d 1450, 1452 (9th Cir. 1984).

III. DISCUSSION

A. The ALJ's Findings.

The ALJ found that Plaintiff has severe physical impairments, including morbid obesity with obstructive sleep apnea, degenerative disc disease of the neck with chronic pain despite surgery, degenerative arthritis of the knees, and prior right ulnar nerve surgery with weak right hand grip. (AR at 11.) The*fn4 ALJ further found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work, with the following limitations:

[T]he claimant can stand and/or walk one hour in an eight hour workday 15 to 30 minutes at a time; she can use a cane as needed; she should avoid uneven surfaces; she can sit eight hours in an eight-hour workday with normal breaks such as every two hours; she can lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; she can occasionally stoop and bend; she can climb stairs, but she cannot climb ladders, work at heights, or balance; she cannot operate foot pedals or controls; she cannot squat, kneel, crawl, run, or jump; she cannot do forceful gripping, grasping, or twisting, with her left hand only, but she can do occasional fine manipulation such as keyboarding with the left hand; she can do frequent gross manipulation such as operating drawers and carrying files with the left hand and arm; she has no limitations on the right hand; she can do occasional neck motion, but should avoid extremes of motion; her head should be held in a comfortable position most of the time; and she can maintain a fixed head position for 15 to 30 minutes at a time, occasionally. (Id. at 13.)

Relying on the testimony of a Vocational Expert ("VE"), the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was unable to perform her past relevant work of learning consultant, risk manager, senior product support analyst, and surgery scheduler. (Id. at 16-17.) The ALJ also relied on the VE's testimony to determine that there were alternative occupations such as Charge Account Clerk (Dictionary of Occupational Titles ("DOT") No. 205.367-014) and ...


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