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Rossiter v. Colvin

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

June 27, 2013

CHERYL ANNE ROSSITER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHARLES F. EICK, Magistrate Judge.

PROCEEDINGS

Plaintiff filed a Complaint on November 8, 2012, seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of benefits. The parties filed a "Statement of Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge, etc." on December 6, 2012.

Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on April 16, 2013. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on June 14, 2013. The Court has taken both motions under submission without oral argument. See "Order, " filed November 13, 2012.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

Plaintiff, a former bartender, asserted disability based on alleged physical and mental problems (Administrative Record ("A.R.") 1001-03, 1012, 1020). An Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") examined the medical record and heard testimony from Plaintiff and from a vocational expert (A.R. 1-1242). The ALJ found Plaintiff "has the following severe impairments: osteoarthritis in the back, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, and history of polysubstance abuse in sustained remission" (A.R. 1236). The ALJ also found, however, that Plaintiff retains the residual functional capacity to perform a limited range of light work (A.R. 1237). In reliance on the testimony of the vocational expert, the ALJ determined that a person having this capacity could perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy (A.R. 1227-28, 1241-42). The Appeals Council denied review (A.R. 960-62).

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), this Court reviews the Administration's decision to determine if: (1) the Administration's findings are supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the Administration used correct legal standards. See Carmickle v. Commissioner , 533 F.3d 1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai v. Astrue , 499 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales , 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (citation and quotations omitted); see also Widmark v. Barnhart , 454 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2006).

This Court "may not affirm [the Administration's] decision simply by isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence, but must also consider evidence that detracts from [the Administration's] conclusion." Ray v. Bowen , 813 F.2d 914, 915 (9th Cir. 1987) (citation and quotations omitted); see Lingenfelter v. Astrue , 504 F.3d 1028 (9th Cir. 2007) (same). However, the Court cannot disturb findings supported by substantial evidence, even though there may exist other evidence supporting Plaintiff's claim. See Torske v. Richardson , 484 F.2d 59, 60 (9th Cir. 1973), cert. denied, 417 U.S. 933 (1974); Harvey v. Richardson , 451 F.2d 589, 590 (9th Cir. 1971).

DISCUSSION

After consideration of the record as a whole, Defendant's motion is granted and Plaintiff's motion is denied. The Administration's findings are supported by substantial evidence and are free from material[1] legal error.

I. Substantial Evidence Supports the Conclusion Plaintiff Could Work.

Substantial medical and non-medical evidence supports the ALJ's determination that Plaintiff could work through the date of the ALJ's latest decision. Conflicts in the evidence argued by Plaintiff do not require a contrary determination.

Initially, the Court observes that, in connection with a prior application, the Administration found Plaintiff able to work through May 21, 2008 (A.R. 365-75, 966-76) ("the prior administrative decision"). In the prior administrative decision, the ALJ rejected, inter alia, the contrary opinions of Dr. Steve Eklund, Plaintiff's treating psychiatrist (id.). In Rossiter v. Astrue, No. ED CV 08-995-E, this Court upheld the prior administrative ...


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