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Martinez v. Colvin

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

September 19, 2014

ALICIA MARTINEZ, 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 December 18, 2013, seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of her application for Disability Insurance Benefits. The parties filed Consents to proceed before the undersigned Magistrate Judge on December 24, 2013, and January 15, 2014. Pursuant to the Court's Order, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation on August 14, 2014, that addresses their positions concerning the disputed issues in the case. The Court has taken the Joint Stipulation under submission without oral argument.

II.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was born on July 22, 1965. [Administrative Record ("AR") at 110.] She has completed three years of college, and has past relevant work experience as a medical assistant. [AR at 137, 138.]

On August 5, 2010, plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"). [AR at 108-22.] In her application, plaintiff alleged disability beginning on October 1, 2009[1] due to a thoracic tumor on her spine. [AR at 72, 110, 137.] After her application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). [AR at 66-69, 72-76, 78.] A hearing was held on April 25, 2012, at which time plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified on her own behalf. [AR at 37-63.] A vocational expert ("VE") also testified. [AR at 57-62.] On May 25, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision concluding that plaintiff was not disabled. [AR at 20-26.] Plaintiff submitted additional evidence and requested review of the ALJ's decision on July 18, 2012. [AR at 13, 14-16.] The Appeals Council ("AC") rejected plaintiff's evidence and denied review on October 15, 2013. [AR at 1-6.] 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. Berry v. Astrue , 622 F.3d 1228, 1231 (9th Cir. 2010).

"Substantial evidence means more than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Carmickle v. Comm'r, Soc. Sec. Admin., 533 F.3d 1155 , 1159 (9th Cir. 2008) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); Reddick v. Chater , 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998) (same). 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. Mayes v. Massanari , 276 F.3d 453, 459 (9th Cir. 2001); see Ryan v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. , 528 F.3d 1194, 1198 (9th Cir. 2008) ("[A] reviewing court must consider the entire record as a whole and may not affirm simply by isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence.") (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). "Where evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the ALJ's decision should be upheld." Ryan , 528 F.3d at 1198 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted); see Robbins v. Soc. Sec. Admin. , 466 F.3d 880, 882 (9th Cir. 2006) ("If the evidence can support either affirming or reversing the ALJ's conclusion, [the reviewing court] may not substitute [its] judgment for that of the ALJ.").

IV.

THE EVALUATION OF ...


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