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Shane Wilson v. Michael J. Astrue

March 28, 2012

SHANE WILSON, 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

Shane Wilson ("Wilson") filed this action on July 21, 2011. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before the magistrate judge on August 3 and 16, 2011. (Dkt. Nos. 9-10.) On March 21, 2012, 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 affirms the decision of the Commissioner.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On July 9, 2008, Wilson filed applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits, alleging an onset date of October 1, 2002. Administrative Record ("AR") 10, 112-28. The applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 57-60. Wilson requested a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). AR 76. On June 17, 2010, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which Wilson and a friend testified. AR 42-56. On August 5, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 7-20. On June 3, 2011, the Appeals Council denied the request for review. AR 1-3. 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. Disability

A person qualifies as disabled, and thereby eligible for such benefits, "only if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy." Barnhart v. Thomas, 540 U.S. 20, 21-22, 124 S. Ct. 376, 157 L. Ed. 2d 333 (2003).

B. The ALJ's Findings

The ALJ found that Wilson met the insured status requirements through June 30, 2011. AR 12. He had a severe impairment of the musculoskeletal system. Id. Wilson had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform "a range of heavy exertional work" and was "limited to lifting and/or carrying 50 pounds frequently and 100 pounds occasionally." AR 15. He could ...


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