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Jonathan Santos v. Michael J. Astrue

March 1, 2013

JONATHAN SANTOS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Oswald Parada United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION; ORDER

The Court now rules as follows with respect to the disputed issues listed in*fn1 the Joint Stipulation ("JS").*fn2

I.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On May 28, 2008, Jonathan Santos ("Plaintiff") applied for Social Security Disability benefits and, on May 31, 2008, Plaintiff protectively filed an application for Supplemental Security Income. (Administrative Record ("AR") at 25, 120-27.) On July 28, 2008, his applications were denied. (Id. at 80-87.) On August 27, 2008, Plaintiff timely requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), whereupon a hearing occurred on May 21, 2010. (Id. at 88-89, 63-79.) The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on October 15, 2010. (Id. at 22-39.) Plaintiff timely appealed the hearing decision to the Appeals Council, which denied review on November 20, 2011. (Id. at 1-21.) Thus, the ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's final decision in this matter.

On January 26, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Complaint seeking review in this Court of the Commissioner's decision denying Social Security benefits. On August 6, 2012, Defendant filed an Answer to the Complaint. On January 24, 2013, filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") identifying the disputed issues before the Court for review.

II.

DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, the disputed issues which Plaintiff raises as the grounds for reversal and/or remand are as follows:

(1) Whether the ALJ properly considered the credibility of Plaintiff and his mother;

(2) Whether the ALJ failed to properly consider whether Plaintiff met or equaled Listing 12.05;

(3) Whether the ALJ failed to properly consider behavioral testing; and

(4) Whether the Appeals Council erred in failing to remand in light of newly submitted vocational reports.

III.

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).

IV.

DISCUSSION

A. The ALJ's Findings.

The ALJ found that Plaintiff has the severe impairment of borderline intellectual functioning. (AR at 28.) The ALJ found Plaintiff's horseshoe kidney and cholelithiasis to be non-severe impairments. (Id.) The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but is limited to work with simple and repetitive tasks. (Id. at 30.)

Relying on the testimony of the vocational expert ("VE"), the ALJ determined that given Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, he is capable of performing his past relevant work as a warehouse worker. (Dictionary of Occupational Titles ("DOT") No. 922.687-058).) (AR at 34.) In the alternative, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff could perform the requirements of the occupations of laundry laborer (DOT No. ...


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