The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul L. Abramsunited States Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff filed this action on January 19, 2011, seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of his application for Disability Insurance Benefits. The parties filed Consents to proceed before the undersigned Magistrate Judge on February 3, 2011, and February 11, 2011. Pursuant to the Court's Order, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation on October 17, 2011, that addresses their positions concerning the disputed issues in the case. The Court has taken the Joint Stipulation under submission without oral argument.
Plaintiff was born on December 6, 1968. [Administrative Record ("AR") at 66-67, 158, 164.] He has a twelfth grade education [AR at 66-67, 185], and past relevant work experience as a rifleman in the United States military and an assistant administrator. [AR at 59-60, 181-82, 240.]
Plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits on February 28, 2008, alleging that he has been unable to work since October 20, 2005, due to a stroke, depression, high blood pressure, carpal tunnel syndrome, and gout in both feet and legs. [AR at 179-86, 222-29, 233-39.] After his application was denied initially and on reconsideration, plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). [AR at 68-78.] A hearing was held on September 11, 2009, at which time plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified on his own behalf. [AR at 16-65.] A medical expert, a vocational expert, and plaintiff's wife also testified. [AR at 21-29, 52-62.] On November 13, 2009, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled. [AR at 5-15.] On November 2, 2010, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review. [AR at 1-4.] This action followed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court has authority to review 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).
In this context, the term "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; see also Drouin, 966 F.2d at 1257. When 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; Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). Where the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Court must defer to the decision of the Commissioner. Moncada, 60 F.3d at 523; Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039-40 (9th Cir. 1995); Drouin, 966 F.2d at 1258.
THE EVALUATION OF DISABILITY
Persons are "disabled" for purposes of receiving Social Security benefits if they are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity owing to a physical or mental impairment that is expected to result in death or which has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at ...