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Agustin Ruiz Pavana v. Carolyn W. Colvin

May 1, 2013

AGUSTIN RUIZ PAVANA,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
DEFENDANT.



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

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Agustin Ruiz Pavana filed this action on September 27, 2012. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before the magistrate judge on October 1 and November 7, 2012. (Dkt. Nos. 4, 7.) On March 26, 2013, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") 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

In June 2008, Pavana filed applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. Both applications alleged an onset date of January 28, 2008. Administrative Record ("AR") 30, 138, 149, 175, 181. The applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. AR 30, 86-89. Pavana requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 101. On April 1, 2010, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which Pavana, a vocational expert and a medical expert testified. AR 54-85. At the hearing, Pavana amended on the alleged disability onset date to September 1, 2007. AR 30, 81, 83. On May 14, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision. AR 20-38. The ALJ found Pavana disabled as of May 7, 2009, the date Pavana's age category changed to an individual of advanced age. AR 36-37. However, the ALJ denied benefits in the period prior to May 7, 2009. AR 20-38. On August 6, 2012, the Appeals Council denied the request for review. AR 1-5. 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); 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 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. The ALJ's Findings

The ALJ found Pavana disabled as of May 7, 2009. AR 36-37. Therefore, this opinion addresses the ALJ's findings after the alleged onset date of September 1, 2007 and before May 7, 2009.

The ALJ found that Pavana met the insured status requirements through March 31, 2009. AR 32. Pavana had the severe impairments of "disorder of the lumbar spine, hypertension with cardiomegaly, diabetes mellitus without evidence of end organ damages, and history of prostate cancer without evidence of local or distant metastases." Id. Pavana had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently, and could sit, stand and/or walk for 6 hours in an 8 hour workday "provided he is allowed to change positions briefly for one to three minutes every hours." AR 33. Pavana could occasionally climb, stoop, crouch, crawl and bend. Id. ...


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