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Lewis v. Colvin

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

November 6, 2013

STEPHANIE M. LEWIS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER AFFIRMING DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY

JOHN E. McDERMOTT, Magistrate Judge.

PROCEEDINGS

On February 28, 2013, Stephanie M. Lewis ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant") filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on June 19, 2013. On August 27, 2013, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS"). The matter is now ready for decision.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties consented to proceed before this Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record ("AR"), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision must be affirmed and this case dismissed with prejudice.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a 64-year-old female who applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits on September 28, 2009, alleging disability beginning February 1, 2009. (AR 25.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of February 1, 2009 through her date last insured of September 30, 2010. (AR 27.)

Plaintiff's claim was denied initially on November 24, 2009 and on reconsideration on April 22, 2010. (AR 25.) Plaintiff then sought review and on June 20, 2011, the matter proceeded to a hearing before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Nancy Lisewski in San Bernardino, California. (AR 25.) Claimant appeared and testified at the hearing and was represented by counsel. (AR 25.) Vocational expert ("VE") Sandra M. Fioretti also appeared and testified at the hearing. (AR 25.)

The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on August 3, 2011. (AR 25-30.) The Appeals Council denied review on January 7, 2013. (AR 1-3.)

DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, Plaintiff raises only the following disputed issue as ground for reversal and remand:

1. Whether the ALJ has properly considered the subjective testimony of Stephanie Lewis in light of the unique nature of fibromyalgia.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the ALJ's decision to determine whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence and free of legal error. Smolen v. Chater , 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see also DeLorme v. Sullivan , 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991) (ALJ's disability determination must be supported by substantial evidence and based on the proper legal standards).

Substantial evidence means "more than a mere scintilla, ' but less than a preponderance." Saelee v. Chater , 94 F.3d 520, 521-22 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Richardson v. Perales , 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a ...


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