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Stephen Duff v. Carolyn W. Colvin

March 27, 2013

STEPHEN DUFF, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,*FN1 COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



ORDER

Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying his application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. The parties' cross-motions for summary judgment are pending. For the reasons discussed below, the court grants the Commissioner's motion and denies plaintiff's motion. ////

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff applied for SSI benefits on August 19, 2008, alleging that he had been disabled since January 1, 2001. Administrative Record ("AR") 102-109. Plaintiff's application was initially denied on September 18, 2008, and upon reconsideration on November 19, 2008. Id. at 60, 70. On October 7, 2009, a hearing was held before administrative law judge ("ALJ") Stanley R. Hogg. Id. at 29-51. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearing, at which he and a third party testified. Id.

On December 4, 2009, the ALJ issued a decision finding that plaintiff was not disabled under section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the act.*fn2 Id. at 16-25. The ALJ made the following specific findings:

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 19, 2008, the supplemental security income application date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.).

2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine and carpal tunnel syndrome of the right hand (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 perform the full range of light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b). He is able to push, pull, lift, and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. He is not limited in sitting. He can walk and stand for 6 hours per day. He does not require an assistive device for ambulation. He can perform postural activities, i.e. kneeling, crawling, and crouching frequently. He can occasionally bend. Agility, i.e. walking on uneven terrain, climbing ladders, or working at heights can be done on an occasional basis. He is not restricted in using his left upper extremity for fine or gross manipulative movements. He can use his right upper extremity for gross manipulation without restriction. He can use his right upper extremity for fine manipulation on an occasional basis given his carpal tunnel syndrome. ...

5. The claimant has no past relevant work, as he has not performed substantial gainful activity in the past 15 years. (20 CFR 416.965). ...

6. The claimant was born [in] 1960 and was 48 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 at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).

8. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because 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 August 19, 2008, the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)).

Id. at 18-24.

Plaintiff's request for review by the Appeals Council was denied on May 13, 2011, leaving the ALJ's decision as the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. Id. at 5-8.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

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 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 ...


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