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Frazier v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 5, 2014

KARRIE ANN FRAZIER, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION

CRAIG M. KELLISON, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, who is proceeding with retained counsel, brings this action for judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security under 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g). Pending before the court are plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 16) and defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment (Doc. 19).

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff applied for social security benefits on November 4, 2009, with a protective filing date of October 29, 2009, alleging an onset of disability on April 1, 2008, due to disabilities including migraine headaches, anxiety, depression, and bi-polar disorder (Certified administrative record ("CAR") 65-68, 123-29, 140-47). Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing, which was held on August 2, 2011, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Mark C. Ramsey. In a November 18, 2011, decision, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff is not disabled[1] based on the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2009.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 1, 2008, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq. ).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: borderline intellectual functioning, anxiety, depression and bipolar. (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: simple, unskilled work without frequent contact with the public or coworkers.
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a housekeeper. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from April 1, 2008, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f) and 416.920(f)).

After the Appeals Council declined review on January 9, 2013, this appeal followed.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The court reviews the Commissioner's final decision to determine whether it is: (1) based on proper legal standards; and (2) supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. See Tackett v. Apfel , 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 1999). "Substantial evidence" is more than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. See Saelee v. Chater , 94 F.3d 520, 521 (9th Cir. 1996). It is "such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales , 402 U.S. 389, 402 (1971). The record as a whole, including both the evidence that supports and detracts from the Commissioner's conclusion, must be considered and weighed. See Howard v. Heckler , 782 F.2d 1484, 1487 (9th Cir. 1986); Jones v. Heckler , 760 F.2d 993, 995 (9th Cir. 1985). The court may not affirm the Commissioner's decision simply by isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence. See Hammock v. Bowen , 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). If substantial evidence supports the administrative findings, or if there is conflicting evidence supporting a particular finding, the finding of the Commissioner is conclusive. See Sprague v. Bowen , 812 F.2d 1226, 1229-30 (9th Cir. 1987). Therefore, where the evidence is susceptible to more than one ...


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