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Jesus Jose Vidana v. Michael J. Astrue

January 22, 2013

JESUS JOSE VIDANA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Mcdermott United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AFFIRMING DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY PROCEEDINGS

On June 22, 2012, Jesus Jose Vidana ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant") filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's applications for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on October 9, 2012. On January 8, 2013, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS"). The matter is now ready for decision.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties consented to proceed before this Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record ("AR"), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision must be affirmed and this case dismissed with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a 51 year old male who applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits on July 29, 2009, and applied for Supplemental Security Income benefits on August 10, 2009. (AR 19.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 12, 2008, the alleged onset date. (AR 21.)

Plaintiff's claims were denied initially on December 21, 2009, and on reconsideration on May 6, 2010. (AR 19.) Plaintiff filed a timely request for hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Lisa D. Thompson on May 19, 2011, in West Los Angeles, California. (AR 19.) Claimant appeared at the hearing, testified, and was represented by counsel. (AR 19.) Medical expert ("ME") Betty L. Borden, M.D., and vocational expert ("VE") Gregory S. Jones also appeared and testified at the hearing. (AR 19.)

The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on May 25, 2011. (AR 19-28.) The Appeals Council denied review on February 27, 2012. (AR 1-6.)

DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, Plaintiff raises only the following disputed issue as a ground for reversal and remand:

1. Whether the ALJ properly applied the Commissioner's Medical-Vocational Guidelines.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the ALJ's decision to determine whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence and free of legal error. Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see also DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991) (ALJ's disability determination must be supported by substantial evidence and based on the proper legal standards).

Substantial evidence means "'more than a mere scintilla,' but less than a preponderance." Saelee v. Chater, 94 F.3d 520, 521-22 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

This Court must review the record as a whole and consider adverse as well as supporting evidence. Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin., 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006). Where evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the ALJ's decision must be upheld. Morgan v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999). "However, a reviewing court must consider the entire record as a whole and may not affirm simply by isolating a 'specific quantum of supporting evidence.'" Robbins, 466 ...


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