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Thomas Davis v. Carolyn W. Colvin

March 15, 2013

THOMAS 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 Thomas Davis filed a complaint on April 13, 2012. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before the magistrate judge on May 17 and 18, 2012. (Dkt. Nos. 8, 10.) The parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") on December 17, 2012, that addressed the disputed issues in the case. The court has taken the matter under submission without oral argument.

Having reviewed the entire file, the court affirms the decision of the Commissioner.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On March 18, 2009, Davis filed applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits, alleging an onset date of January 1, 2008. The applications were denied. Administrative Record ("AR") 75-76. Davis requested a hearing. On July 20, 2010, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") conducted a hearing at which Davis, a medical expert, psychological expert and vocational expert testified. AR 30-74. On August 2, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 14-24. On February 9, 2012, the Appeals Council granted review and issued the final decision of the Commissioner.*fn1 AR 1-8. This lawsuit followed.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court has authority to review the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. The decision will be disturbed only if it is not supported by substantial evidence or 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).

In this context, "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." Vasquez v. Astrue, 572 F.3d 586, 591 (9th Cir. 2009); Moncada, 60 F.3d at 523. When 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. Where the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Court must defer to the decision of the Commissioner. Moncada, 60 F.3d at 523.

III.

EVALUATION OF DISABILITY

A. Disability

A person qualifies as disabled and is eligible for 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. Commissioner's Findings

The Appeals Council adopted the ALJ's evidentiary facts to the extent applicable. AR 4. Davis met the insured status requirements ...


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