The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Ronald E. Bush U. S. Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Pending before the Court is Jill Andrew's Petition for Review (Docket No. 1), seeking review of the Social Security Administration's final decision to deny his claim for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income payments. The action is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Having carefully reviewed the record and otherwise being fully advised, the Court enters the following Memorandum Decision and Order:
I. ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS
On October 27, 2005, Jill Andrew ("Petitioner") applied for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits, alleging a disability onset date of June 3, 2004. (AR 13, 105, 130-35). Petitioner's claim was initially denied on March 3, 2006 and, again, denied on reconsideration on June 28, 2006. (AR 89-92, 95-96). Petitioner timely filed a Request for Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (AR 98). On February 5, 2008, ALJ Michael A. Kilroy, held a hearing in Boise, Idaho, at which time Petitioner, represented by attorney Nick Huntsman, appeared and testified. (AR 28). Also testifying were James Bruce, M.D., a medical expert, Holly Peterson, a vocational expert, and John Andrew, Petitioner's husband.
On March 18, 2008, the ALJ issued a decision, denying Petitioner's claims, finding that Petitioner was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (AR 10-25). Petitioner timely requested review from the Appeals Council. On May 26, 2010, the Appeals Council denied Petitioner's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. (AR 3). Of significance, however, Petitioner filed a subsequent application for benefits filed on April 23, 2008, and was found disabled as of March 19, 2008, the day after the ALJ issued a decision in the instant case. Pet.'s Br., p. 2 (Dkt. 14). The Appeals Council noted that it had considered this information but found it did not warrant a change in the ALJ's decision because "[t]he subsequent allowance resulted from an exacerbation of [Petitioner's] symptoms after the date" of the ALJ's decision. (AR 4).
Having exhausted her administrative remedies, Petitioner timely filed the instant action requesting that this Court review the Commissioner's decision and remand this case for reconsideration.
To be upheld, the Commissioner's decision must be supported by substantial evidence and based on proper legal standards. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Matney ex. rel. Matney v. Sullivan, 981 F.2d 1016, 1019 (9th Cir. 1992); Gonzalez v. Sullivan, 914 F.2d 1197, 1200 (9th Cir. 1990). Findings as to any question of fact, if supported by substantial evidence, are conclusive. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). That is, if there is substantial evidence to support the ALJ's factual decisions, they must be upheld, even when there is conflicting evidence. Hall v. Sec'y of Health, Educ. & Welfare, 602 F.2d 1372, 1374 (9th Cir. 1979).
"Substantial evidence" is defined as such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Tylitzki v. Shalala, 999 F.2d 1411, 1413 (9th Cir. 1993); Flatten v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 44 F.3d 1453, 1457 (9th Cir. 1995). The standard requires more than a scintilla but less than a preponderance of evidence, Sorenson v. Weinberger, 514 F.2d 1112, 1119 n. 10 (9th Cir. 1975); Magallanes v. Bowen, 881 F.2d 747, 750 (9th Cir. 1989), and "does not mean a large or considerable amount of evidence." Pierce v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 565 (1988).
With respect to questions of fact, the role of the Court is to review the record as a whole to determine whether it contains evidence that would allow a reasonable mind to accept the conclusions of the ALJ. See Richardson, 402 U.S. at 401; see also Matney, 981 F.2d at 1019. The ALJ is responsible for determining credibility and resolving conflicts in medical testimony, Allen v. Heckler, 749 F.2d 577, 579 (9th Cir. 1984), resolving ambiguities, see Vincent ex. rel. Vincent v. Heckler, 739 F.2d 1393, 1394-95 (9th Cir. 1984), and drawing inferences logically flowing from the evidence, Sample v. Schweiker, 694 F.2d 639, 642 (9th Cir. 1982). Where the evidence is susceptible to more than one rational interpretation in a disability proceeding, the reviewing court may not substitute its judgment or interpretation of the record for that of the ALJ. Flatten, 44 F.3d at 1457; Key v. Heckler, 754 F.2d 1545, 1549 (9th Cir. 1985).
With respect to questions of law, the ALJ's decision must be based on proper legal standards and will be reversed for legal error. Matney, 981 F.2d at 1019. The ALJ's construction of the Social Security Act is entitled to deference if it has a reasonable basis in law. See id. However, reviewing federal courts "will not rubber-stamp an administrative decision that is inconsistent with the statutory mandate or that frustrates the congressional purpose underlying the statute." Smith v. Heckler, 820 F.2d 1093, 1094 (9th Cir. 1987).
In evaluating the evidence presented at an administrative hearing, the ALJ must follow a sequential process in determining whether a person is disabled in general (see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920) - or continues to be disabled (see 20 C.F.R. ...