The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge
) ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S
) SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT
Plaintiff Kevin Voua Lee ("Plaintiff") seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner" or "Defendant") denying his applications for disability insurance and supplemental security income benefits pursuant to Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. The matter is currently before the Court on the parties' briefs, which were submitted, without oral argument, to the Honorable Gary A. Austin, United States Magistrate Judge.*fn1
FACTS AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS*fn2
In May 2008, Plaintiff filed applications for benefits, alleging disability beginning March 15, 2008. See AR 91-97. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and on reconsideration, and Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 48-51, 57-61, 64. ALJ T. Patrick Hannon held a hearing and issued an order denying benefits on September 9, 2010, finding Plaintiff was not disabled. AR 13-23. Thereafter, on August 26, 2011, the Appeals Council denied review. AR 1-3.
ALJ Hannon held a hearing on July 7, 2010, in Fresno, California.
Plaintiff appeared and was assisted by Gregory Elovich,*fn3
as well as a Hmong language interpreter. Vocational Expert
("VE") Thomas Dachelet was also present. AR 32-43.
ALJ Hannon and Mr. Elovich engaged in a discussion regarding a number of the exhibits that were admitted into evidence (AR 35-42), however, neither Plaintiff nor VE Dachelet testified at the administrative hearing (AR 42-43).
The entire medical record was reviewed by the Court. AR 122-282. The medical evidence will be referenced below as necessary to this Court's decision.
Using the Social Security Administration's five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not meet the disability standard. AR 13-23.
More particularly, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 15, 2008. AR 15. Further, the ALJ identified gout, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and post-traumatic stress disorder as severe impairments. AR 15. Nonetheless, the ALJ determined that the severity of the Plaintiff's impairment did not meet or exceed any of the listed impairments. AR 15-17.
Based on his review of the entire record, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform sedentary work with a limitation to simple and repetitive tasks consistent with unskilled work. AR 17-21.
Next, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was unable to perform his past relevant work as a non-profit project manager. AR 21. However, based upon Plaintiff's age, education, work experience and RFC, the ALJ determined there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. AR 21-22. Therefore, the ALJ found Plaintiff was not disabled. AR 22-23.
Congress has provided a limited scope of judicial review of the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits under the Act. In reviewing findings of fact with respect to such determinations, this Court must determine whether the decision of the Commissioner is supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405 (g). Substantial evidence means "more than a mere scintilla," Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 402 (1971), but less than a preponderance. Sorenson v. Weinberger, 514 F.2d 1112, 1119, n. 10 (9th Cir. 1975). It is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401. The record as a whole must be considered, weighing both the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's conclusion. Jones v. Heckler, 760 F.2d 993, 995 (9th Cir. 1985). In weighing the evidence and making findings, the Commissioner must apply the proper legal standards. E.g., Burkhart v. Bowen, 856 F.2d 1335, 1338 (9th Cir. 1988). This Court must uphold the Commissioner's determination that the claimant is not disabled if the Secretary applied the proper legal standards, and if the Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial evidence. See Sanchez v. Sec'y of Health and Human Serv., 812 F.2d 509, 510 (9th Cir. 1987).
In order to qualify for benefits, a claimant must establish that he is unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c (a)(3)(A). A claimant must show that he has a physical or mental impairment of such severity that he is not only unable to do her previous work, but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy. Quang Van Han ...