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Ana Maria Aranda v. Michael J. Astrue

February 22, 2013

ANA MARIA ARANDA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Alicia G. Rosenberg United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Ana Maria Aranda filed this action on May 2, 2012. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before the magistrate judge on May 31, 2012. (Dkt. Nos. 9, 10.) On February 19, 2013, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") that addressed the disputed issues. The court has taken the matter under submission without oral argument.

Having reviewed the entire file, the court reverses the decision of the Commissioner and remands for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On April 9, 2010, Aranda filed an application for disability insurance benefits and alleged a disability onset date of July 11, 2008. Administrative Record ("AR") 25. The application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 56-57. Aranda requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). On July 29, 2011, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which Aranda and a vocational expert testified. AR 35-55. On August 26, 2011, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 19-31. On February 28, 2012, the Appeals Council denied the request for review. AR 1-5. This action followed.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. The decision will be disturbed only if it is not supported by substantial evidence, or if it is based upon the application of improper legal standards. Moncada v. Chater, 60 F.3d 521, 523 (9th Cir. 1995); Drouin v. Sullivan, 966 F.2d 1255, 1257 (9th Cir. 1992).

"Substantial evidence" means "more than a mere scintilla but less than a preponderance -- it is such relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support the conclusion." Moncada, 60 F.3d at 523. In determining whether substantial evidence exists to support the Commissioner's decision, the Court examines the administrative record as a whole, considering adverse as well as supporting evidence. Drouin, 966 F.2d at 1257. When the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Court must defer to the Commissioner's decision. Moncada, 60 F.3d at 523.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Disability

A person qualifies as disabled, and thereby eligible for such benefits, "only if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his 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." Barnhart v. Thomas, 540 U.S. 20, 21-22, 124 S. Ct. 376, 157 L. Ed. 2d 333 (2003).

B. The ALJ's Findings

The ALJ found that Aranda meets the insured status requirements through December 31, 2013. AR 27. Aranda has the severe impairments of carcinoma of the right breast, status post lumpectomy and chemotherapy without evidence of metastases; atypical ductal hyperplasia of the left breast with calcifications, status post lumpectomy; osteoporosis; and obesity. Id. She has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as follows: "She can lift, carry, push, and/or pull 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk for no more than four hours in an eight-hour workday; and sit for about six hours in an eight-hour workday, with normal rest periods. The claimant must never climb ladders, ramps, or stairs. She should engage in no more than occasional overhead reaching and no more than frequent handling or fingering with her right upper extremity." AR 28.

The ALJ found that Aranda is able to perform her past relevant work as a sewing machine operator as generally performed in the national economy ...


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