This social security action was submitted to the court without oral argument for ruling on plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment. For the reasons explained below, plaintiff's motion is denied, defendant's motion is granted, and the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) is affirmed.
On November 2, 2007, plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act), alleging disability beginning on April 15, 2002. (Transcript (Tr.) at 10, 113.) Plaintiff's application was denied initially and on reconsideration. (Id. at 76-83.)
Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), and an administrative hearing was held on December 16, 2009. (Id. at 40-66.) Plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified at that administrative hearing. In a decision issued on February 23, 2010, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled. (Id. at 17.) The ALJ entered the following findings:
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 2, 2007, the application date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine with grade 1 anterolisthesis and panic attacks (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to push, pull, lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently, walk and stand 6 hours per day, perform occasional bending activity, and kneel, stoop, crawl, crouch, walk on uneven terrain, climb ladders or work at heights on a frequent basis. Sitting and fine and gross manipulative activity can be performed without restrictions. Further, she can interact with co-workers and supervisors but should minimize contact with the public.
5. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965). 6. The claimant was born on September 10, 1963 and was 44 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.963).
7. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the claimant does not have past relevant work (20 CFR 416.968).
9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 416.969 and 416.969(a)).
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since November 2, 2007, the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)). (Id. at 12-17.)
On July 15, 2011, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's February 23, 2010 decision. (Id. at 1-3.) Plaintiff sought judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) by filing the complaint in this action on September 13, 2011.
The Commissioner's decision that a claimant is not disabled will be upheld if the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole and the proper legal standards were applied. Schneider v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 223 F.3d 968, 973 (9th Cir. 2000); Morgan v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999). The findings of the Commissioner as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, are conclusive. Miller v. Heckler, 770 F.2d 845, 847 (9th Cir. 1985). Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Osenbrock v. Apfel, 240 F.3d ...