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Cathy L. Adams v. Michael J. Astrue

August 27, 2012

CATHY L. ADAMS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Margaret A. Nagle United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff filed a Complaint on September 27, 2011, seeking review of the denial by the Social Security Commissioner ("Commissioner") of plaintiff's application for a period of disability, disability insurance benefits ("DIB"), and supplemental security income ("SSI"). On October 26, 2011, the parties consented, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), to proceed before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge. The parties filed a Joint Stipulation on July 2, 2012, in which: plaintiff seeks an order reversing the Commissioner's decision and awarding benefits or, alternatively, remanding for further administrative proceedings; and the Commissioner requests that his decision be affirmed or, alternatively, remanded for further administrative proceedings.

SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

On August 29, 2008, plaintiff filed an application for a period of disability, DIB, and SSI alleging an inability to work since March 16, 2006, due to fibromyalgia, restless leg syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, mood disorder, degenerative disc disease, and high blood pressure. (See Administrative Record ("A.R.") 21, 35, 53-56, 124-27, 128-31, 148.) Plaintiff has past relevant work experience "in home care." (A.R. 148.)

The Commissioner denied plaintiff's application initially and upon reconsideration. (A.R. 57-60, 64-70.) On May 3, 2010, plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, appeared and testified at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge Joseph D. Schloss (the "ALJ"). (A.R. 28-52.) Vocational expert Sandra Fioretti also testified. (Id.) On June 10, 2010, the ALJ denied plaintiff's claim (A.R. 18-27), and the Appeals Council subsequently denied plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision (A.R. 1-6). That decision is now at issue in this action.

SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

The ALJ found that plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 16, 2006, the alleged onset date of her disability. (A.R. 20.) The ALJ further determined that plaintiff has the severe impairments of "fibromyalgia syndrome and diabetes mellitus." (Id.) *fn1

He concluded that these impairments do not meet or medically equal the criteria of an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, the Listing of Impairments. (A.R. 21.)

After reviewing the record, the ALJ determined that plaintiff has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform less than the full range of medium work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c). (A.R. 22.) Specifically, the ALJ found that plaintiff:

can lift and/or carry 50 pounds occasionally; push and pull within these weight restrictions; stand and/or walk 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; and sit 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. She can perform postural activities frequently, including climbing, bending, stooping, crouching, squatting, crawling, and reaching. She can do fine fingering frequently.

(Id.)

The ALJ found that plaintiff is capable of performing her past relevant work as a home attendant, companion, and day worker on a full time basis. (A.R. 24.) Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from March 16, 2006, the date her application was filed, through June 10, 2010, the date of his decision. (Id.)

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g), this Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine whether it is free from legal error and supported by substantial evidence. Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence is "'such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'" Id. (citation omitted). The "evidence must be more than a mere scintilla but not necessarily a preponderance." Connett v. Barnhart, 340 F.3d 871, 873 (9th Cir. 2003). "While inferences from the record can constitute substantial ...


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