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Belbin v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 2, 2015

PAUL BELBIN, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ORDER

ALLISON CLAIRE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying applications for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act ("Act"), respectively. For the reasons discussed below, the court will deny plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and grant the Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, born December 13, 1983, applied on September 2, 2010 for DIB and SSI, alleging disability beginning March 19, 2003. Administrative Record ("AR") 144, 147. Plaintiff alleged he was unable to work due to his bipolar disorder, manic depression, stomach, back and neck pain, bowel problems, insomnia, fatigue, intense anger, vertigo, sleep apnea, and posttraumatic stress disorder. AR 187. In a decision dated August 30, 2012, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled. AR 32. The ALJ made the following findings (citations to 20 C.F.R. omitted):

1. Born on December 13, 1983, the claimant had not attained age 22 as of March 19, 2003, the alleged onset date.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 19, 2003, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: learning disorder, borderline intellectual functioning, bipolar disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: the claimant can perform simple, repetitive tasks. He can interact with supervisors, but can occasionally work with coworkers and the public. He may initially require additional instructions to learn tasks but is able to learn simple, repetitive tasks. The claimant is able to maintain regular attendance. He cannot work in a competitive environment with quotas or pacing.
6. The claimant has no past relevant work.
7. The claimant was born on December 13, 1983 and was 19 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date.
8. The claimant has limited education and is able to communicate in English.
9. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the claimant does not have past relevant work.
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform.
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from March 19, 2003, through the date of this decision.

AR 16-32.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Born on December 13, 1983, plaintiff was 19 years old on the alleged onset date of disability and 28 at the hearing before the ALJ. AR 39, 144. Plaintiff has some high school education. AR 47. He has no past relevant work. AR 31.

III. ISSUES PRESENTED

Plaintiff argues that the ALJ committed the following errors in finding plaintiff not disabled: (1) the ALJ failed to consider all of plaintiff's impairments in assessing plaintiff's RFC and, as a result, posed an incomplete hypothetical to the vocational expert; (2) the ALJ improperly evaluated the opinions of plaintiff's treating physicians; and (3) the ALJ failed to develop the record with regard to the time period between December 2010 and January 2011.

IV. LEGAL STANDARDS

The court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine whether (1) it is based on proper legal standards pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g), and (2) substantial evidence in the record as a whole supports it. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 1999). Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Connett v. Barnhart, 340 F.3d 871, 873 (9th Cir. 2003). It means "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630 (9th Cir. 2007), quoting Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005). "The ALJ is responsible for determining credibility, resolving conflicts in medical testimony, and resolving ambiguities." Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1156 (9th Cir. ...


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