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Oscar andres Narvaez v. Michael J. Astrue

January 2, 2013

OSCAR ANDRES NARVAEZ MIRAMONTEZ,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marc L. Goldman United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Oscar Miramontez seeks judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying his application for disability insurance benefits ("DIB"). For the reasons stated below, the decision of the Commissioner is affirmed and the matter is dismissed with prejudice.

I. Background

Plaintiff was born on March 9, 1970, and was 38 years old at the time he filed his application for benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") at 131.) He has a high school education and has relevant work experience as an air conditioning installer, painter and drywall installer. (AR at 160, 162.) Plaintiff filed his DIB application on November 3, 2008, alleging disability beginning November 15, 2003, due to lower back pain, insomnia and depression. (AR at 65, 131-34.)

Plaintiff's application was denied initially on December 8, 2008, and upon reconsideration on February 18, 2009. (AR at 71-74, 77-81.) An administrative hearing was held on March 16, 2010, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Alexander Weir, III. Plaintiff, represented by counsel, testified, as did a vocational expert. (AR at 36-64.)

On April 5, 2010, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. (AR at 21-35.) He found that the medical evidence established that Plaintiff suffered from a severe back impairment. (AR at 24.) However, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's impairment did not meet, and was not medically equal to, one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R., Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (AR at 26.) The ALJ further found that Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b) with the following limitations:

Specifically, the claimant could lift or carry 10 pounds frequently and 20 pounds occasionally. He could stand and walk for 2 hours in an 8-hour work day (with normal breaks), and could sit for 6 hours in an 8 hour day. He could push or pull without limitation. He would need to be able to alternate sitting and standing, as needed. In addition he was precluded from climbing ladders, ropes or scaffolds, but he was able to occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. He has no other manipulative, visual, environmental or communicative limitations. (AR at 27.)

The ALJ concluded that although Plaintiff was incapable of performing any past relevant work, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform, and therefore Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(f). (AR at 30-31.)

On February 23, 2012, the Appeals Council denied review. (AR at 1-6.) Plaintiff then timely commenced this action for judicial review. On December 14, 2012, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("Joint Stip.") of disputed facts and issues. Plaintiff contends that the ALJ erred by:

(1) failing to give proper weight to the opinion of Plaintiff's treating physician; and (2) failing to perform a proper credibility analysis. (Joint Stip. at 4.) Plaintiff seeks reversal of the Commissioner's denial of his application and payment of benefits or, in the alternative, remand for a new administrative hearing. (Joint Stip. at 20-21.) The Commissioner requests that the ALJ's decision be affirmed. (Joint Stip. at 21.)

II. Standard of Review

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a district court may review the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. The Commissioner's or ALJ's decision must be upheld unless "the ALJ's findings are based on legal error or are not supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole." Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 1990); Batson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004); Parra v. Astrue, 481 F.3d 742, 746 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence means such evidence as a reasonable person might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Widmark v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 1063, 1066 (9th Cir. 2006). It is more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006). To determine whether substantial evidence supports a finding, the reviewing court "must review the administrative record as a whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's conclusion." Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1996). "If the evidence can support either affirming or reversing the ALJ's conclusion," the reviewing court "may not substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ." Robbins, 466 F.3d at 882.

III. Discussion

A. The ALJ Accorded Appropriate Weight to the Opinion of Plaintiff's ...


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