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Voong v. Astrue

March 27, 2009

MUI VOONG, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,*FN1 DEFENDANT.



ORDER

This social security action was submitted to the court, without oral argument, for ruling on plaintiff's motion for summary judgment or remand and defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment. For the reasons explained below, plaintiff's motion for remand is granted, the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) is reversed, and this matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this order.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff applied for Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act) on April 11, 2003. (Transcript (Tr.) at 44-72.) The Commissioner denied plaintiff's application initially on September 30, 2003, and upon reconsideration on September 30, 2004. (Tr. at 32-34.) On December 30, 2004, plaintiff requested a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). (Tr. at 43.) At the hearing conducted by ALJ L. Kalei Fong on December 6, 2005, plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified through an interpreter. (Tr. at 213-28.) In a decision issued on March 17, 2006, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision. (Tr. at 12-21.) The ALJ entered the following findings:

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset of disability.

2. The claimant's major depressive disorder and schizoaffective disorder are considered "severe" based on the requirements in the Regulations 20 CFR § 416.920(c).

3. These medically determinable impairments do not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments in Appendix 1, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4.

4. The undersigned finds the claimant's allegations regarding her limitations are not totally credible for the reasons set forth in the body of the decision.

5. The claimant has the residual functional capacity to understand, remember and carry out simple one or two-step instructions. The claimant also has the ability to relate and interact with others not requiring significant close/coordinated interactions. She can also adapt to stresses common to a normal work environment. The claimant can also maintain concentration, attention, persistence and pace and she can maintain regular attendance. In other words, the claimant retains the ability to perform simple, unskilled work.

6. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR § 416.965).

7. The claimant is a 'younger individual' (20 CFR § 416.963).

8. The claimant is 'unable to communicate in English' (20 CFR § 416.964).

9. The claimant has no exertional limitations (20 CFR § 416.945).

10. Considering the range of work at all levels that the claimant is still functionally capable of performing, in combination with her age, education, and work experience, and using section 204.00 of the Medical-Vocational Guidelines as a framework for decision-making, the claimant is not disabled.

11. The claimant was not under a "disability," as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time through the date of this decision (20 CFR § 416.920(g)). (Tr. at 20.)

On July 7, 2006, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. at 4-8.) Plaintiff sought judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 405(g) by filing ...


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