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Delatorre v. Colvin

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 3, 2013

CARRIE DELATORRE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

Alan Stuart Graf, Summertown, Tennessee, Attorney for plaintiff.

S. Amanda Marshall, United States Attorney, Adrian L. Brown Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, OR.

Robert M. Rodriguez, Special Assistant United States Attorney Social Security Administration, Seattle, WA, Attorneys for defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANN AIKEN, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 405 (g). Plaintiff seeks review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act). For the reasons set forth below, the Commissioner's decision is affirmed.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff applied for SSI on January 5, 2006, alleging an onset date of October 22, 2001. Tr. 11, 197-201. Plaintiff alleged that she could not work due to fibromyalgia, status-post left shoulder Weaver-Dunn reconstruction, mild right shoulder arthrosis of the acromioclavicular joint, obesity, bilateral feet hallux valgus deformity, cervical spine degenerative disc disease, mild thoracic spine degenerative changes, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive disorder traits, panic disorder with agoraphobia, and dysthymia. Tr. 14.

Her claims were denied initially and upon reconsideration, and ultimately denied by an ALJ decision dated July 25, 2008. Tr. 11, 104-15. Plaintiff requested review of the July 2008 decision by the Appeals Council. Tr. 11. The Appeals Council accepted jurisdiction and in an Order dated June 24, 2010, remanded the case back to the hearings level. Tr. 11, 116-18. The Appeals Council directed the ALJ to clarify plaintiff's residual functional capacity (RFC) and to resolve an inconsistency between the RFC in the July 2008 hearing decision and the vocational expert testimony at the hearing. Tr. 11, 116-18. The remaining findings from the July 2008 decision were not called into question, including the ALJ's credibility finding. Tr. 11, 109-13. These findings were incorporated by reference into the current ALJ's decision. Tr. 16, 104-15.

Pursuant to the Appeals Council's Order, an ALJ held a supplemental hearing on November 18, 2010. Tr. 11, 48-79. Subsequent to the 2010 hearing, the ALJ ordered a psychological consultative examination, which was performed by psychiatrist Charles P. Reagan, M.D. Tr. 539-48. A supplemental hearing was held on May 10, 2011, and on June 3, 2011 the ALJ issued a decision finding that plaintiff could make an adjustment to other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy. Tr. 11-24, 32-47. Plaintiff now seeks judicial review.

Born in 1968, plaintiff was 37 years old on the date the application was filed on January 5, 2006. Tr. 11, 23. She completed 11th grade, but did not graduate or obtain her GED. Tr. 23, 57. Prior to her alleged onset date, plaintiff worked as a home care provider and a deli worker. Tr. 22, 58, 94.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

This court must affirm the Commissioner's decision if it is based on the proper legal standards and the findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record. Hammock v. Bowen , 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989). Substantial evidence is "more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales , 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consolidated Edison v. NLRB , 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)). The court must weigh "both the evidence that supports and detracts from the [Commissioner's] conclusions." Martinez v. Heckler , 807 F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir. 1986). Where the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation, the Commissioner's conclusion must be upheld. Sample v. Schweiker , 694 F.2d 639, 642 (9th Cir. 1982).

COMMISSIONER'S DECISION

The initial burden of proof rests upon the claimant to establish disability. Howard v. Heckler , 782 F.2d 1484, 1486 (9th Cir. 1986). To meet this burden, a claimant must demonstrate an "inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected ...


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