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Milagros Cadusale v. Michael J. Astrue

June 21, 2012

MILAGROS CADUSALE, 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 REVERSING DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS PROCEEDINGS

On December 8, 2011, Milagros Cadusale ("Plaintiff") filed a Complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") denying her application for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on March 8, 2012. On May 17, 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 the undersigned Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record ("AR"), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision must be reversed and remanded for further proceedings in accordance with this Memorandum Opinion and Order and with law.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was born on March 22, 1950, and was 52 years old on her alleged disability onset date of July 20, 2002. (AR 119.) Plaintiff filed an application for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits on July 10, 2008 (AR 119-22), and claims she is disabled due to back and shoulder injuries. (AR 147-48.) Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her alleged disability onset date of July 20, 2002. (AR 11.)

Plaintiff's claim was denied initially on February 11, 2009 (AR 73-77), and upon reconsideration on April 27, 2009. (AR 81-87.) Plaintiff then filed a timely request for hearing on May 18, 2009. (AR 88-89.) Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing held on November 17, 2010, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Charles Stevenson. (AR 56-70.) The ALJ issued a decision denying benefits on December 3, 2010. (AR 9-14.) The Appeals Council denied review on October 21, 2011. (AR 1-4.)

DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, there are three disputed issues:

(1) whether the ALJ properly evaluated the opinion of examining physician Dr. Ross;

(2) whether the ALJ properly determined Plaintiff could perform her past relevant work; and

(3) whether the ALJ properly assessed Plaintiff's credibility.

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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