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Michael F. Morgan v. Carolyn W. Colvin

March 28, 2013

MICHAEL F. MORGAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



ORDER

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.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On October 31, 2007, plaintiff filed an application for Disabled Adult Child Benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act (the Act) and for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Act, alleging disability beginning on March 2, 2006. (Transcript (Tr.) at 9, 172-77.) Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. (Id. at 110-13, 121-26.) A hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on July 8, 2009, (id. at 23-41) and a second such hearing was held on March 8, 2010. (Id. at 42-99.)

Plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified at both administrative hearings. In a decision issued on April 20, 2010, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled. (Id. at 17.) The ALJ entered the following findings:

1. Born on July 6, 1985, the claimant had not attained age 22 as of March 2, 2006, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.102, 416.120(c)(4) and 404.350(a)(5)).

2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 2, 2006, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).

3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: bipolar disorder; borderline intellectual functioning; schizophrenia. (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).

4. 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 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).

5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following non-exertional limitations: he has no limitation in understanding, remembering, and carrying out short, simple instructions; he has moderate limitation in understanding, remembering, and carrying out detailed instructions; he has no limitations in the ability to make judgments on simple work-related decisions; he has slight to moderate limitations in the ability to make judgments on detailed work-related decisions; he is limited to frequent exposure to the public, supervisors, and co-workers; and he has slight to moderate limitation in the ability to respond appropriate (sic) to work pressures and changes in a routine work setting.

6. At all times relevant to this decision, the claimant has been capable of performing past relevant work as a roofer helper, carpenter helper, warehouse laborer, and temporary laborer. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).

7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from March 2, 2006, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.350(a)(5), 404.1520(f) and 416.920(f)). (Id. at 11-17.)

On June 8, 2011, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's 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 August 8, 2011.

LEGAL STANDARD

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 1157, 1162 (9th Cir. 2001) (citing Morgan, 169 F.3d at 599); Jones

v. Heckler, 760 F.2d 993, 995 (9th Cir. 1985) (citing Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)).

A reviewing court must consider the record as a whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts from the ALJ's conclusion. Jones, 760 F.2d at 995. The court may not affirm the ALJ's decision simply by isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence. Id.; see also Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). If substantial evidence supports the administrative findings, or if there is conflicting evidence supporting a finding of either disability or non-disability, the finding of the ALJ is conclusive, Sprague v. Bowen, 812 F.2d 1226, 1229-30 (9th Cir. ...


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