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Ormond v. Colvin

United States District Court, First Circuit

November 4, 2013

Lori Lyn Ormond, Claimant
v.
Carolyn W. Colvin Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant Opinion No. 2013 DNH 146

ORDER

STEVEN J. McAULIFFE, District Judge.

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), Claimant, Lori Lyn Ormond, moves to reverse the Commissioner's decision denying her application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 423 (the "Act"). See Document No. 7. The Commissioner objects and moves for an order affirming her decision, Document No. 10.

Factual Background

I. Procedural History

On August 24, 2010, claimant filed an application for disability insurance benefits, alleging disability since May 5, 2009, primarily due to hearing loss and hypertension. Her application for benefits was denied and she requested an administrative hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ").

Claimant, who was represented by counsel, appeared and testified before an ALJ on April 3, 2012. On April 27, 2012, the ALJ issued his written decision, concluding that claimant was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. On July 20, 2012, the Appeals Council denied claimant's request for review. Accordingly, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner, subject to judicial review.

Claimant then filed a timely action in this court, appealing the denial of disability benefits. Now pending are claimant's "Motion for Order Reversing Decision of the Commissioner" and the Commissioner's "Motion for Order Affirming the Decision of the Commissioner."

II. Stipulated Facts

Pursuant to Local Rule 9.1(d), the parties submitted a Joint Statement of Material Facts which, because it is part of the court record (doc. no. 11), need not be recounted in this opinion. Those facts relevant to the disposition of this matter are discussed as appropriate.

Standard of Review

I. "Substantial Evidence" and Deferential Review

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the court is empowered "to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, with or without remanding the cause for a rehearing." Factual findings and credibility determinations made by the Commissioner are conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3). See also Irlanda Ortiz v. Secretary of Health & Human Services , 955 F.2d 765, 769 (1st Cir. 1991). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB , 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938). It is something less than a preponderance of the evidence, so the possibility of drawing two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence does not prevent an administrative agency's finding from being supported by substantial evidence. Consolo v. Federal Maritime Comm'n. , 383 U.S. 607, 620 (1966). See also Richardson v. Perales , 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971).

Consequently, provided the ALJ's findings are properly supported, the court must sustain those findings even when there may also be substantial evidence supporting the contrary position. See, e.g., Tsarelka v. Secretary of Health & Human Services , 842 F.2d 529, 535 (1st Cir. 1988); Rodriguez ...


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