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Bella v. Colvin

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

April 3, 2014

DELIA A. BELLA, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

PAUL L. ABRAMS, Magistrate Judge.

I.

PROCEEDINGS

Plaintiff filed this action on July 5, 2013, seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of her application for Supplemental Security Income payments. The parties filed Consents to proceed before the undersigned Magistrate Judge on August 2, 2013, and August 6, 2013. Pursuant to the Court's Order, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") on March 20, 2014, that addresses their positions concerning the disputed issue in the case. The Court has taken the Joint Stipulation under submission without oral argument.

II.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was born on November 22, 1961. [Administrative Record ("AR") at 61, 117.] She has a tenth grade education, and past relevant work experience as a floral assistant. [AR at 41-42, 62, 142.]

On September 20, 2010, plaintiff protectively filed an application for Supplemental Security Income payments, alleging that she has been unable to work since January 1, 2005. [AR at 26, 117-26, 137, 159.] After her application was denied initially, plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). [AR at 26, 67-73.] A hearing was held on September 21, 2011, at which time plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified on her own behalf. [AR at 26, 38-57.] A vocational expert ("VE") also testified. [AR at 52-56.] On October 27, 2011, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled. [AR at 33.] When the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review on May 10, 2013, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. [AR at 1-6, 17]; see Sam v. Astrue , 550 F.3d 808, 810 (9th Cir. 2008) (per curiam). This action followed.

III.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g), this Court has authority to review 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).

In this context, the term "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; see also Drouin , 966 F.2d at 1257. When 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; Hammock v. Bowen , 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). Where the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Court must defer to the decision of the Commissioner. Moncada , 60 F.3d at 523; Andrews v. Shalala , 53 F.3d 1035, 1039-40 (9th Cir. 1995); Drouin , 966 F.2d at 1258.

IV.

THE EVALUATION OF ...


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