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Paula Cornelison v. Michael J. Astrue

November 30, 2011

PAULA CORNELISON,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Paul L. Abramsunited States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I.

PROCEEDINGS

Plaintiff filed this action on March 21, 2011, seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of her application for Disability Insurance Benefits. The parties filed Consents to proceed before the undersigned Magistrate Judge on March 29, 2011, and April 4, 2011. The parties filed a Joint Stipulation on October 18, 2011, that addresses their positions concerning the disputed issues in the case. The Court has taken the Joint Stipulation under submission without oral argument.

II.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was born on July 22, 1954. [Administrative Record ("AR") at 79-80.] She completed three years of college, and has past relevant work experience as a security officer, a packager, an inventory counter, a laundry attendant, and a caregiver and housekeeper. [AR at 127-28, 130.]

On June 23, 2008, plaintiff filed her application for Disability Insurance Benefits, alleging that she has been disabled since May 18, 2008, due to bipolar disorder, anxiety, and constant ringing in her ears. [AR at 79-80, 101, 125-31, 196-202.] After plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, she requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). [AR at 81-92.] A hearing was held on March 9, 2010, at which time plaintiff appeared with her attorney and testified on her own behalf. [AR at 20-53.] A medical expert ("ME") and a vocational expert also testified. [AR at 41-53.] On April 8, 2010, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled. [AR at 9-16.] When the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review of the hearing decision on January 7, 2011, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. [AR at 1-4.] This action followed.

III.

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.

IV.

THE EVALUATION OF ...


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