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Colon v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 17, 2015

LYDIA I. CARABALLO COLON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ORDER

EDMUND F. BRENNAN, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. The parties' cross-motions for summary judgment are pending. For the reasons discussed below, plaintiff's motion is denied and defendant's motion is granted.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed an application for SSI on October 23, 2009, alleging that she had been disabled since August 26, 2005. Administrative Record ("AR") 156-163. Her application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. at 77-87. On June 21, 2011, a hearing was held before administrative law judge ("ALJ") Phillip E. Callis. Id. at 55-73. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearing, at which she and a vocational expert ("VE") testified. Id.

On July 22, 2011, the ALJ issued a decision finding that plaintiff was not disabled under section 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Act.[1] Id. at 32-44. The ALJ made the following specific findings:

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 23, 2009, the application date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq. ).
* * *
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: obesity, degenerative joint disease of the lumbar spine, and depression (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
* * *
3. 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 (20 CFR 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
* * *
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except she is limited to simple repetitive tasks in a non-public setting.
* * *
5. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a sorter. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 416.965).
* * *
6. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since October 23, 2009, the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(f)).

Id. at 34-44.

Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's decision, id. at 22-23, and on May 17, 2013, the Appeals Council denied review, leaving the ALJ's decision as the final decision of the Commissioner. Id. at 1-9.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

The Commissioner's decision that a claimant is not disabled will be upheld if the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence in the record and the proper legal standards were applied. Schneider v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 223 F.3d 968, 973 (9th Cir. 2000); Morgan v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999); Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 1999).

The findings of the Commissioner as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, are conclusive. See Miller v. Heckler, 770 F.2d 845, 847 (9th Cir. 1985). Substantial evidence is more than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance. Saelee v. Chater, 94 F.3d 520, 521 (9th Cir. 1996). "It means such evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'" Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consol. Edison Co. v. N.L.R.B., 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)).

"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. 2001) (citations omitted). "Where the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, one of which supports the ALJ's decision, the ...


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