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Morales v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California

January 30, 2015

GILBERT ACOSTA MORALES, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

ALICIA G. ROSENBERG, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Gilbert Acosta Morales filed this action on January 22, 2014. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties consented to proceed before the magistrate judge. (Dkt. Nos. 7, 8.) On November 13, 2014, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") that addressed the disputed issue. 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 1, 2010, Morales filed applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income, alleging an onset date of October 16, 2009. Administrative Record ("AR") 12, 129-37, 153-56. The applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. AR 12, 63-66. Morales requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 81-83. On May 16, 2012, the ALJ conducted a hearing at which Morales and a vocational expert testified. AR 24-62. The ALJ held the record open for Morales to attend a consultative internal medicine evaluation and to take x-rays of his hands and knees. AR 60. A consultative evaluation, including x-rays, was performed on June 27, 2012. AR 232-45. On September 4, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. AR 12-20. On November 25, 2013, the Appeals Council denied the request for review. AR 1-4. 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. Disability

A person qualifies as disabled, and thereby eligible for such benefits, "only if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national ...


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