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Veniale v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division

March 24, 2014

ANIKESI VENIALE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DOUGLAS F. MCCORMICK, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Anikesi Veniale ("Plaintiff") appeals from the denial of his application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits. On appeal, the Court concludes that the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") did not err when he determined that Plaintiff's impairments did not meet a listing. For the reasons stated below, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed and the matter is dismissed with prejudice.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed his application for SSI benefits on June 10, 2010, alleging disability beginning January 1, 2007. Administrative Record ("AR") 13. In an unfavorable opinion, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") concluded, based upon the testimony of a vocational expert ("VE"), that Plaintiff could perform jobs that exist in significant numbers in the regional and national economy. AR 23. Before reaching that conclusion, the ALJ rejected Plaintiff's argument that his impairments met or equaled the criteria of Listing 1.02A. AR 16-18.

II.

ISSUE PRESENTED

The parties dispute whether the ALJ properly determined that Plaintiff's impairments do not meet or equal Listing 1.02A. See Plaintiff's Memorandum in Support of Complaint ("Plaintiff's Memorandum") at 5-10; Defendant's Memorandum in Support of Answer ("Defendant's Memorandum") at 3-10.

III.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a district court may review the Commissioner's decision to deny benefits. The ALJ's findings and decision should be upheld if they are free from legal error and are supported by substantial evidence based on the record as a whole. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Richardson v. Perales , 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Parra v. Astrue , 481 F.3d 742, 746 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence means such relevant evidence as a reasonable person might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson , 402 U.S. at 401; Lingenfelter v. Astrue , 504 F.3d 1028, 1035 (9th Cir. 2007). It is more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Lingenfelter , 504 F.3d at 1035 (citing Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin. , 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006)). To determine whether substantial evidence supports a finding, the reviewing court "must review the administrative record as a whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts from the Commissioner's conclusion." Reddick v. Chater , 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1996). "If the evidence can reasonably support either affirming or reversing, " the reviewing court "may not substitute its judgment" for that of the Commissioner. Id. at 720-21.

IV.

THE ALJ PROPERLY DETERMINED THAT PLAINTIFF'S IMPAIRMENTS DO NOT MEET OR EQUAL A LISTED IMPAIRMENT

The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the severe impairments of morbid obesity, gouty arthritis, asthma, bilateral knee osteoarthritis, and a history of atrial fibrillation. AR 16. The ALJ found that these impairments did not, singly or in combination, meet or medically equal the severity of a listed impairment. AR 17-18. The ALJ went on to conclude that Plaintiff was capable of performing sedentary work "that does not require walking on uneven ground ...


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