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Clementina Orozco v. Michael J. Astrue

January 4, 2012

CLEMENTINA OROZCO, 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; ORDER

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

I.

DISPUTED ISSUES

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

(1) Whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity ("RFC") and ability to perform her past relevant work;

(2) Whether the ALJ properly considered Plaintiff's testimony;

(3) Whether the ALJ properly considered lay witness testimony; and

(4) Whether the ALJ properly relied on vocational expert ("VE") testimony.

(JS at 3-30.)

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 the severe impairments of cervical strain, DeQuervain's syndrome -- right wrist, right shoulder impingement, diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. (AR at 19.)

The ALJ further found that Plaintiff had the RFC to perform less than light work with the following limitations: push, pull, lift, and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk for up to six hours in an eight-hour day; sit for up to six hours in an eight-hour day; no forceful gripping and/or grasping with the right hand; occasional postural activities; no climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; no exposure to extreme temperatures or vibrations; no working with hazardous machinery; and no working at heights. (Id. at 20.)

Relying on the testimony of the VE to determine the extent to which Plaintiff's limitations eroded the less than light occupational base, the ALJ asked the VE whether, in light of Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, she would be able to perform her past relevant work. (Id. at 24, 44-46.) Based on the testimony of the VE, the ALJ determined ...


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