United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division
JOSE L. ORDONEZ, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
PAUL L. ABRAMS, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff filed this action on October 30, 2013, seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of his application for Disability Insurance Benefits. The parties filed Consents to proceed before the undersigned Magistrate Judge on December 6, 2013, and December 9, 2013. Pursuant to the Court's Order, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation on July 17, 2014, that addresses their positions concerning the disputed issue in the case. The Court has taken the Joint Stipulation under submission without oral argument.
Plaintiff was born on October 9, 1959. [Administrative Record ("AR") at 132.] He received a sixth grade education in Guatemala [AR at 37, 158] and has past relevant work experience as a plastic roll cutter, mattress and boxspring supervisor, industrial cleaner, and the hybrid occupation of mattress finisher and mattress maker. [AR at 27.]
On November 19, 2010, plaintiff filed his application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"), alleging he has been unable to work since February 1, 2010, due to back injury. [AR at 132, 158.] After his application was denied initially, plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). [AR at 66-70, 71-72.] A hearing was held on October 13, 2011, at which time plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified on his own behalf, with the assistance of a Spanish language interpreter. [AR at 33-61.] A Vocational Expert ("VE") also testified. [AR at 53-60.] On November 18, 2011, the ALJ issued a decision concluding that plaintiff was not under a disability from February 1, 2010, through the date of the decision. [AR at 22-28.] When the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review on September 13, 2013 [AR at 1-3], the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. See Sam v. Astrue , 550 F.3d 808, 810 (9th Cir. 2008) (per curiam). This action followed.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 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.
THE EVALUATION OF ...