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Lawrence G. Moore v. Michael J. Astrue

May 31, 2012

LAWRENCE G. MOORE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Jacqueline Chooljian United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. SUMMARY

On December 27, 2011, plaintiff Lawrence G. Moore ("plaintiff") filed a Complaint seeking review of the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of plaintiff's application for benefits. The parties have consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment, respectively ("Plaintiff's Motion") and ("Defendant's Motion"). The Court has taken both motions under submission without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15; December 29, 2011 Case Management Order ¶ 5.

Based on the record as a whole and the applicable law, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED. The findings of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") are supported by substantial evidence and are free from material error.*fn1

II. BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION On November 18, 2009, plaintiff filed applications for Supplemental

Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") 129, 137). Plaintiff asserted that he became disabled on June 20, 2008, due to depression, bi-polar disorder, inability to sleep, and difficulty concentrating. (AR 177). The ALJ examined the medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff and a vocational expert on October 15, 2010. (AR 44-71).

On November 2, 2010, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision. (AR 30-37). Specifically, the ALJ found:

(1) plaintiff suffered from the following non-severe impairments: mental depression, drug and alcohol abuse (in early remission) (AR 33); (2) plaintiff does not have a severe impairment or a combination of impairments that has significantly limited (or is expected to significantly limit) plaintiff's ability to perform basic work-related activities for 12 consecutive months (AR 33); and

(3) plaintiff's allegations regarding his limitations were not credible to the extent they were inconsistent with the ALJ's finding that plaintiff has no severe impairment or combination of impairments (AR 35).

The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's application for review. (AR 1).

III. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Sequential Evaluation Process

To qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must show that the claimant is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months. Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A)). The impairment must render the claimant incapable of performing the work claimant previously performed and incapable of performing any other substantial gainful employment that exists in the national economy. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A)).

In assessing whether a claimant is disabled, an ALJ is to follow a five-step sequential evaluation process:

(1) Is the claimant presently engaged in substantial gainful activity? If so, the claimant is not disabled. If not, proceed to step two.

(2) Is the claimant's alleged impairment sufficiently severe to limit the claimant's ability to work? If not, the claimant is not disabled. If so, proceed to step three.

(3) Does the claimant's impairment, or combination of impairments, meet or equal an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1? If so, the claimant is disabled. If not, proceed to step four.

(4) Does the claimant possess the residual functional capacity to perform claimant's past relevant work? If so, the claimant is not ...


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