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John Blair v. Michael J. Astrue

January 29, 2013

JOHN BLAIR, 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 now rules as follows with respect to the disputed *fn1 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 ALJ's finding that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal a listing is supported by substantial evidence;

(2) Whether the ALJ properly considered the opinion of the treating physician and the residual functional capacity ("RFC") assessment is supported by substantial evidence; and

(3) Whether the ALJ properly evaluated Plaintiff's credibility. (JS at 4.)

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 had the severe impairments of osteoarthritis of the left ankle and right wrist, and chronic back pain. (Administrative Record ("AR") at 19.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work, except that he can stand and walk for no more than four hours of an eight-hour workday; can no more than occasionally climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl; can sit up to six hours of an eight-hour workday, cumulatively; and can no more than occasionally perform fine or gross manipulations with the right upper extremity. (Id. at 19-20.)

Relying on the testimony of the vocational expert ("VE"), the ALJ determined Plaintiff was able to perform such occupations as bench assembler/assembler of small parts; packager; cashier II; and inspector/hand packager. (Id. at 23.) The VE further testified that a person with Plaintiff's RFC could also perform such sedentary occupations as cutter and paster; inspector; and surveillance system monitor. (Id.)

B. The ALJ Properly Determined Plaintiff's Impairments Did Not Meet or Equal a Listing.

Plaintiff contends that the ALJ's listing determination lacks the support of substantial evidence. (JS at 4.) Specifically, Plaintiff contends the evidence demonstrates that he meets or equals listing 1.02A, major dysfunction of a joint, and that the ALJ ...


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