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Ramiro L. Leon v. Michael J. Astrue

June 1, 2012

RAMIRO L. LEON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Mcdermott United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AFFIRMING DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY PROCEEDINGS

On July 28, 2011, Ramiro L. Leon ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant") filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on November 7, 2011. On April 2, 2012, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS"). The matter is now ready for decision.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties consented to proceed before this Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record ("AR"), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision should be affirmed and the case dismissed with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a 52 year old male who applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits on January 18, 2008, alleging disability beginning December 1, 2007. (AR 22.) Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since that date. (AR 24.)

Plaintiff's claim was denied initially on April 11, 2008, and on reconsideration on August 5, 2008. (AR 22.) Plaintiff filed a timely request for hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Helen E. Hesse on September 15, 2009, in Orange, California. (AR 22.) Claimant appeared and testified at the hearing, and was represented by counsel. (AR 22.) Medical expert Sami A. Nafoosi, M.D., and vocational expert ("VE") Alan L. Ey, also appeared and testified at the hearing. (AR 22.) The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on November 6, 2009. (AR 22-28.) The Appeals Council denied review on May 27, 2011. (AR 1-8.)

DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, Plaintiff raises only one issue as a ground for reversal and remand:

1. Whether the ALJ properly considered the testimony of Ramiro Leon.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the ALJ's decision to determine whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence and free of legal error. Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see also DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991) (ALJ's disability determination must be supported by substantial evidence and based on the proper legal standards).

Substantial evidence means "'more than a mere scintilla,' but less than a preponderance." Saelee v. Chater, 94 F.3d 520, 521-22 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

This Court must review the record as a whole and consider adverse as well as supporting evidence. Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006). Where evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the ALJ's decision must be upheld. Morgan v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999). "However, a reviewing court must consider the entire record as a whole and may not affirm simply by isolating a 'specific quantum of supporting evidence.'" Robbins, 466 ...


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