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Smith v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 29, 2014

JACQUELINE SMITH o/b/o J.N.M.S.U., Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ALICIA G. ROSENBERG, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Jacqueline Smith filed this action on September 25, 2013, on behalf of her daughter, J.N.M.S.U.[1] Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before the magistrate judge. (Dkt. Nos. 11, 12.) On April 17, 2014, 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 affirms the decision of the Commissioner.

I.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On October 13, 2010, an application for supplemental security income was filed on behalf of J.N.M.S.U. alleging an onset date of October 1, 2010. Administrative Record ("AR") 26, 101-09. The application was denied. AR 26, 63. A hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") was requested. AR 68-70. On February 15, 2012, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which Smith testified.[2] AR 44-62. After the hearing, the record remained open so that additional evidence could be submitted. No additional evidence was submitted, and the record closed on March 22, 2012. AR 26. On March 29, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 23-40. On June 15, 2013, the Appeals Council denied the request for review. AR 5-9. 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) (per curiam); 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. Definition of Disability for a Child

"An individual under the age of 18 shall be considered disabled... if that individual has a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, which results in marked and severe functional limitations, and which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(C)(i).[3] An impairment is "marked and severe" if it meets, medically equals, or functionally equals an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix I. 20 C.F.R. § 416.924(d)(1). A claimant's condition "meets" a listed impairment if the claimant's impairment matches the listed impairment. Id. A claimant's condition "medically equals" the listed impairment by demonstrating medical findings that are of equal medical significance to the listed impairment. 20 C.F.R. § 416.926(b)(1)(ii). A claimant's condition "functionally equals" a listed impairment by showing either a marked limitation in two functional domains (out of six) or an extreme limitation in one domain. 20 ...


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