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Toriello v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Nevada

June 25, 2014

LAURA TORIELLO, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commission of Social Security, Defendant.

ORDER

LLOYD D. GEORGE, District Judge.

The plaintiff, Laura Toriello, appeals defendant Carolyn W. Colvin's final decision denying Toriello's claim for social security benefits. (Docket #4, Complaint at 2).The issues before the Court are the objections Toriello raised in response to Magistrate Judge Ferenbach's Report and Recommendation ("R&R") denying Toriello's motion for reversal of the final decision, or to remand to the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") for further proceedings. (Docket # 21, Objections to R&R at 7). Having considered the pleadings, the arguments of the parties, and the administrative record ("AR"), the Court denies the motion.

JURISDICTION

The Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), which allows for judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner for error of law or substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) (permitting the District Court to refer matters to a U.S. Magistrate Judge).

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The District Court's standard of review is de novo in regards to the portions of Magistrate Judge Ferenbach's report and recommendation to which an objection has been made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

The Court must uphold the decision of an ALJ if the ALJ properly applied the correct legal standards and his findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence in the record. See Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Judicial review of the ALJ's final decision must be based solely on the administrative record. Id. The court may affirm, modify, or reverse the final decision of the ALJ. Id. Under § 405(g), the ALJ's final decision will be disturbed only if the factual findings underlying the decision are not supported by substantial evidence or if the decision fails to apply the correct legal standards. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1097 (9th Cir. 1999). The findings of the ALJ as to any fact shall be conclusive and must be upheld if supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Mayes v. Massanari, 276 F.3d 453, 459 (9th Cir. 2011). Substantial evidence is defined as "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." Sandgathe v. Chater, 108 F.3d 978, 980 (9th Cir. 1997). Whether substantial evidence supports a finding is determined from the record as a whole, with the court weighing both the evidence that supports and the evidence that detracts from the ALJ's conclusion. Id. When the evidence can rationally be interpreted in more than one way, the court must uphold the SSA's decision. Id.

BACKGROUND

A. Procedural History

On February 20, 2010, Laura Toriello filed concurrent applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income alleging disability. (Docket #4, Complaint at 2). Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin ("the Commissioner") denied the claims by initial determination on June 3, 2010. Id. The Commissioner subsequently denied Toriello's request for reconsideration on August 11, 2010. Id. Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. 405.301, Toriello requested a de novo hearing before an ALJ on August 26, 2010. Id. The ALJ conducted an oral hearing, and denied Toriello's claim for benefits on April 5, 2012. Id . Toriello requested a review of the decision by the Appeals Council on May 24, 2012. Id. The Appeals Council denied the request for review on February 22, 2013. Id. Upon denial of review, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. 42 U.S.C. § 405(h).

Toriello commenced this action against the Commissioner on April 18, 2013, for judicial review of the Commissioner's decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Docket #4, Complaint at 1-3). Toriello moved for reversal and remand of the final decision of the Commissioner on August 1, 2013. (Docket #17, Motion at 2).

Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach reviewed the Commissioner's decision to determine whether (1) the Commissioner applied the correct legal standards and (2) the decision is supported by substantial evidence. (Docket #20, R&R at 2); Batson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004); Ukolov v. Barnhart, 420 F.3d 1002 (9th Cir. 2005).

Judge Ferenbach then issued a report and recommendation for denial of the motion on November 13, 2013. (Docket #20, R&R at 10). Toriello filed a timely objection to Judge Ferenbach's report and recommendation. (Docket #21, Objection to R&R at 1).The Commissioner issued a ...


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