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Mario De La Torre v. Michael J. Astrue

July 24, 2012

MARIO DE LA TORRE, 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 March 15, 2012, plaintiff Mario De La Torre ("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; March 16, 2012 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 December 4, 2008, plaintiff filed applications for Supplemental Security

Income and Disability Insurance Benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") 24, 176, 179). Plaintiff asserted that he became disabled on November 5, 2008, due to frost bite to both hands, right carpal tunnel syndrome, and De Quervain's syndrome. (AR 198). The ALJ examined the medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff (who was represented by counsel), and a vocational expert on January 10, 2011. (AR 39-65).

On January 24, 2011, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision. (AR 24-35). Specifically, the ALJ found:

(1) plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: obesity, right severe median neuropathy, left moderate median neuropathy posttraumatic arthritis, De Quervain's syndrome, and carpal tunnel syndrome (AR 27); (2) plaintiff's impairments, considered singly or in combination, did not meet or medically equal a listed impairment (AR 28); (3) plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform light work (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b), 416.967(b)) with additional limitations (AR 29); (4) plaintiff could not perform his past relevant work (AR*fn2 33); (5) there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could perform, specifically information clerk and credit checker (AR 34); and (6) plaintiff's allegations regarding his limitations were not credible to the extent they were inconsistent with the ALJ's residual functional capacity assessment (AR 31).

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. ยง 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 ...


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