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Yvonne Davis v. Carolyn W. Colvin

March 6, 2013

YVONNE DAVIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Yvonne Davis filed this action on June 20, 2012. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before the magistrate judge on July 9 and 13, 2012. (Dkt. Nos. 8, 9.) On February 28, 2013, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation 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 August 11, 2008, Davis filed an application for disability insurance benefits alleging an onset date of August 28, 2007. AR 10. The application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 56-57. Davis requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). On June 9, 2010, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which Davis and a vocational expert ("VE") testified. AR 19-55. On July 23, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 7-15. On April 20, 2012, the Appeals Council denied the request for review. AR 1-3. 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) (per curiam); 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 Davis met the insured status requirements through December 31, 2011. AR 12. Davis had the severe impairment of rheumatoid arthritis. She did not meet or equal a listing. Id. Davis had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform medium work, in that she "can lift and/or carry 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk 4 hours in an 8-hour day using a cane as needed; and sit 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. She can climb stairs but she cannot climb ladders, work at heights, or balance. She can stoop, bend, crouch, and crawl occasionally. She can do fine manipulation with the left hand frequently. She should avoid concentrated exposure to ...


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