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Martin Chavez v. Michael J. Astrue

February 9, 2012

MARTIN CHAVEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I.

PROCEEDINGS

Plaintiff filed this action on February 16, 2011, seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of his applications for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income payments. The parties filed Consents to proceed before the undersigned Magistrate Judge on March 8, 2011, and March 22, 2011. Pursuant to the Court's Order, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation on November 28, 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 April 8, 1963. [Administrative Record ("AR") at 73-74.] He has a second grade education [AR at 187], and past relevant work experience as a dish washer, maintenance worker, materials carrier, and sandblaster. [AR at 183.]

Plaintiff filed his application for Disability Insurance Benefits on September 18, 2008,*fn1 and protectively filed his application for Supplemental Security Income payments on September 23, 2008, alleging that he has been unable to work since July 19, 2006, due to a right shoulder rotator cuff tear, sleep disorder, and problems with his cervical spine. [AR at 73-74, 139, 146, 181-88.] After his applications were denied initially and on reconsideration, plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). [AR at 79-92.] A hearing was held on May 19, 2010, at which time plaintiff appeared without counsel and testified on his own behalf. [AR at 30-63.] A vocational expert also testified. [AR at 60-63.] On June 17, 2010, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled. [AR at 14-24.] On December 13, 2010, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review. [AR at 1-7.] 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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