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Humberto Salguero v. Michael J. Astrue

January 9, 2012

HUMBERTO SALGUERO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Sheri Pym United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I.

INTRODUCTION

On January 14, 2011, plaintiff Humberto Salguero filed a complaint against defendant Michael J. Astrue, seeking a review of a denial of Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). Both plaintiff and defendant have consented to proceed for all purposes before the assigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The parties' briefing is now complete, and the court deems the matter suitable for adjudication without oral argument.

A single issue is presented for decision here: whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly considered the evidence of a medically determinable severe mental impairment. Pl.'s Br. at 4-10; Def.'s Mem. at 3-10; Reply at 3-5.

Having carefully studied, inter alia, the parties' written submissions and the Administrative Record ("AR"), the court concludes that, as detailed herein, there is substantial evidence in the record, taken as whole, to support the ALJ's decision. First, the ALJ properly determined that plaintiff does not suffer from a severe mental impairment. And second, the ALJ provided reasons germane to plaintiff's social worker for rejecting the social worker's opinion regarding plaintiff's mental impairment, as such opinion was not from an acceptable medical source and is inconsistent with the objective medical record. Therefore, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision denying benefits.

II.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, who was fifty-seven years old on the date of his September 17, 2008 administrative hearing, has a fourth-grade education. See AR at 43, 116, 152. His past relevant work includes employment as a janitor, painter, parking lot attendant, carpenter's helper, and warehouse worker. Id. at 57, 130-36.

Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI, alleging that he has been disabled since January 1, 2002 due to memory loss, depression, blurred vision, hypertension, and high cholesterol. See AR at 28, 65, 116-17, 117-18, 147. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration, after which he filed a request for a hearing. Id. at 61, 62, 63, 64, 65-68, 70-74, 76, 77-82, 83-88, 91.

On September 17, 2008, plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared and testified at a hearing before the ALJ with the assistance of a Spanish interpreter. AR at 44-57. The ALJ also heard testimony from Sandra Schneider, a vocational expert ("VE"). Id. at 57-59. On December 9, 2008, the ALJ denied plaintiff's request for benefits. Id. at 28-40.

Applying the well-known five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found, at step one, that plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his alleged disability onset date. AR at 31.

At step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff suffers from hypertension, heart disease, mental depression and a history of alcoholism. The ALJ further found, however, that only plaintiff's impairments of hypertension and heart disease are severe impairments. AR at 31.

At step three, the ALJ determined the evidence does not demonstrate that plaintiff's impairments, either individually or in combination, meet or medically equal the severity of any listing set forth in ...


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