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Renee Hills v. Michael J. Astrue

January 22, 2013

RENEE HILLS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Jacqueline Chooljian United States Magistrate Judge

I. SUMMARY

MEMORANDUM OPINION

On July 11, 2012, plaintiff Renee Hills ("plaintiff") filed a Complaint seeking review of the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of plaintiff's application for benefits. The parties have consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment, respectively ("Plaintiff's Motion") and ("Defendant's Motion"). The Court has taken both motions under submission without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15; July 13, 2012 Case Management Order ¶ 5.

Based on the record as a whole and the applicable law, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED. The findings of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") are supported by substantial evidence and are free from material error.*fn1

II. BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

On August 8, 2008, plaintiff filed applications for Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") 19, 123-31). Plaintiff asserted that she became disabled on July 16, 2007, due to seizures, high blood pressure, diabetes, an enlarged heart, high cholesterol, and lupus. (AR 160). The ALJ examined the medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff (who was represented by counsel), a medical expert, and a vocational expert on September 29, 2010. (AR 37-63).

On January 10, 2011, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision. (AR 19-30). Specifically, the ALJ found:

(1) plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: hypertension, diabetes mellitus, obesity, abdominal mass, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus ("SLE" or "lupus") (AR 21); (2) plaintiff's impairments, considered singly or in combination, did not meet or medically equal a listed impairment (AR 22-23);

(3) plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform light work with additional limitations (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b), 416.967(b)) (AR 23); *fn2

(4) plaintiff could not perform her past relevant work (AR 28); (5) there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could perform, specifically office helper, cashier II, and storage facility rental clerk (AR 29); and (6) plaintiff's allegations regarding her limitations were not credible to the extent they were inconsistent with the ALJ's residual functional capacity assessment (AR 27).

The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's application for review. (AR 1).

III. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Sequential Evaluation Process

To qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must show that the claimant is unable "to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting 42 U.S.C. ยง 423(d)(1)(A)) (internal quotation marks omitted). The impairment must render the claimant incapable of performing the work claimant previously performed and incapable of performing any other ...


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