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Tawny Svete v. Michael J. Astrue

December 29, 2011

TAWNY SVETE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Alicia G. Rosenberg United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Tawny Svete ("Svete") filed this action on January 4, 2011. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before the magistrate judge on January 13 and 20, 2011. (Dkt. Nos. 8, 9.) On June 30, 2011, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") that addressed the disputed issues. The Court has taken the matter under submission without oral argument.

Having reviewed the entire file, the Court reverses the decision of the Commissioner and remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

In September 2008, Svete filed applications for supplemental security income benefits and disability insurance benefits. Both applications alleged an onset date of May 5, 2008. Administrative Record ("AR") AR 11. The applications were denied initially, and upon reconsideration. AR 67-76, 94-102. Svete requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). However, on September 2, 2009, the ALJ issued an Order of Dismissal on the ground that Svete did not timely file a request for a hearing. AR 59-62.

On September 24, 2009, the Appeals Council remanded the case to the ALJ to give Svete another opportunity for a hearing. AR 65-66. On September 21, 2010, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which Svete, her mother, and a vocational expert testified. AR 19-51. On October 28, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 8-18. On November 30, 2010, the Appeals Council denied the request for review. AR 1-5. This action followed.

II.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews 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).

"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. In 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. When the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Court must defer to the Commissioner's decision. Moncada, 60 F.3d at 523.

III.

DISCUSSION

A. ...


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