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Deborah A. Olguin v. Michael J. Astrue

October 1, 2012

DEBORAH A. OLGUIN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Oswald Parada United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

The Court*fn1 now rules as follows with respect to the disputed issues listed in the Joint Stipulation ("JS").*fn2

I. DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, the disputed issues raised by Plaintiff as the grounds for reversal and/or remand are as follows:

(1) Whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly considered the findings of Plaintiff's treating physician; and

(2) Whether the Vocational Expert ("VE") provided an adequate basis for her opinion regarding alternative work. (JS at 8.)

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine whether the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether the proper legal standards were applied. DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991). Substantial evidence means "more than a mere scintilla" but less than a preponderance. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S. Ct. 1420, 28 L. Ed. 2d 842 (1971); Desrosiers v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 846 F.2d 573, 575-76 (9th Cir. 1988). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401 (citation omitted). The Court must review the record as a whole and consider adverse as well as supporting evidence. Green v. Heckler, 803 F.2d 528, 529-30 (9th Cir. 1986). Where evidence is susceptible of more than one rational interpretation, the Commissioner's decision must be upheld. Gallant v. Heckler, 753 F.2d 1450, 1452 (9th Cir. 1984).

III. DISCUSSION

A. The ALJ's Findings.

The ALJ found that Plaintiff has severe physical impairments, including hypertension, history of hypothyroidism, liver cirrhosis with esophageal varices and history of esophageal bleeding, irregular heartbeat, history of diabetes, and history of anemia. (AR at 17.) The ALJ further found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work, limited by the following accommodations: lift and carry ten pounds frequently and twenty pounds occasionally; stand and walk up to four hours in an eight-hour day but no more than fifteen minutes at a time; sit unrestricted with normal breaks; occasionally climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; work absence once or twice a month; and no detailed or complex tasks. (Id. at 18.) Relying on the testimony of the VE, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was unable to perform her past relevant work as a property manager, but could perform alternative work as a case aide. (Id. at 20-21.)

B. The ALJ Properly Rejected the Opinion of the Treating Liver Specialist.

Plaintiff contends that the ALJ erred in giving no weight to the functional capacity assessment of Plaintiff's treating liver specialist, Mohamed El-Kabany, M.D. (JS at 8-10.)

On March 15, 2011, after seeing Plaintiff just two times (AR at 75), Dr. ElKabany signed a ...


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