Beltran v. Astrue

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Disability Law
  • Date Filed: 05-02-2012
  • Case #: 09-56255
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Pregerson for the Court; Circuit Judge D. Nelson; Dissent by Circuit Judge Ikuta
  • Full Text Opinion

For purposes of determining whether a claimant is “disabled” and thus qualified for benefits under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, “a significant number” of jobs does not exist “where the jobs were ‘very rare’ or generally unavailable to the claimant due to [her] limitations.”

Jennie Beltran is a fifty-six-year-old woman afflicted by numerous physical and mental limitations. The Commissioner of Social Security denied Beltran’s claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits and Social Security Income (“SSI”) benefits under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”). After finding that Beltran was not “disabled” under the Act, the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) denied her claim for SSDI benefits and partially denied her request for SSI benefits. Beltran appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Commissioner. A person is “disabled” if her “impairments are of such severity that [she]...cannot, considering [her] age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial work which exists in the national economy.” “Work which exists in the national economy” is defined as “work which exists in significant numbers either in the region where such individual lives or in several regions of the country.” A vocational expert testified that Beltran could have worked as a surveillance system monitor, and that 135 of such jobs existed regionally and 1,680 jobs existed nationally. From this the ALJ concluded that Beltran was not “disabled,” because such testimony proved that a “significant number” of jobs existed. The Court found that, when compared to other cases, 135 regional positions is a “very rare” number. Further, 1,680 jobs as a stand-alone figure seems to be a “significant number,” but is not when considering that these jobs extend across several regions. Moreover, the expert testified that surveillance monitor jobs were rare and that she was unaware of available positions in Beltran’s area of residence. Hence, such a job was also “generally unavailable” to Beltran. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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