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Larry Clark v. Michael J. Astrue

February 7, 2012

LARRY CLARK, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gregory G. Hollows United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying his application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act ("Act"). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED, the Commissioner's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED, and the Clerk is directed to enter judgment for the Commissioner. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, born July 27, 1963, applied on January 11, 2008 for disability benefits. (Tr. at 52.) Plaintiff alleged he was unable to work since November 1, 2000, due to anxiety, panic attacks, schizophrenia, ADHD, learning problems, and arthralgia in the back, knee, and ankles. (Id. at 52, 97, 101, 12.) In a decision dated August 26, 2009, ALJ Stanley R. Hogg determined plaintiff was not disabled. The ALJ made the following findings:*fn1

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 11, 2008, the application date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.)

2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: anxiety and depressive disorder, schizophrenia, drug and alcohol dependence, in remission, and arthralgias of the back, knee, and ankles (20 CFR 416.920(c)).

3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 416.925 and 416.926).

4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except that he can lift 25 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. He is limited to simple, repetitive tasks that do not involve frequent interaction with co-workers, supervisor, and the public or significant changes in work routine.

5. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).

6. The claimant was born on July 27, 1963 and was 44 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date the application was filed. (20 CFR 416.963).

7. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).

8. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the claimant does not have past relevant work (20 CFR 416.968).

9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 416.969 and 416.969a).

10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since January 11, 2008, the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)).

(Tr. at 12 - 18.)

ISSUES PRESENTED

Plaintiff has raised the following issues: A. Whether the ALJ Erred in Failing to Find that Plaintiff's Mental Impairment Met or Equaled the Requirements of Listing 12.05C; B. Whether the ALJ Failed to Properly Credit Plaintiff's Testimony and Third Party Statements Regarding His Functional Limitations; and C. Whether the ALJ Erred in Failing to Obtain Testimony of a Vocational Expert.

LEGAL STANDARDS

The court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine whether (1) it is based on proper legal standards pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), and (2) substantial evidence in the record as a whole supports it. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir.1999). Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Connett v. Barnhart, 340 F.3d 871, 873 (9th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted). It means "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007), quoting Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005). "The ALJ is responsible for determining credibility, resolving conflicts in medical testimony, and resolving ambiguities." Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001) (citations omitted). "The court will uphold the ALJ's conclusion when the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation." Tommasetti v. Astrue, 533 F.3d 1035, 1038 (9th Cir. 2008). ANALYSIS

A. Listing 12.05C

Plaintiff contends that he meets or equals Listing 12.05C. The ...


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