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Fox v. Astrue

March 19, 2010

MARYLIN RENEE FOX, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Suzanne H. Segal United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Marylin Renee Fox ("Plaintiff") brings this action seeking to reverse the decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the "Commissioner" or the "Agency") denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"). The parties consented, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge. For the reasons stated below, the decision of the Agency is REVERSED and REMANDED for further proceedings.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On September 11, 2006, Plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") claiming that she became disabled on September 30, 2005. (Administrative Record ("AR") 98-100). The Agency denied her application and she submitted a request for reconsideration on March 12, 2007. (AR 47-54). The Agency denied her application again on June 21, 2007. (AR 52-56). Plaintiff then requested a hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge Jay E. Levine (the "ALJ") on November 19, 2008. (AR 57, 18-44). Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (AR 20-38). On March 25, 2009, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. (AR 7-16). Plaintiff sought review before the Appeals Council, which denied the request on April 20, 2009. (AR 3-6). On June 16, 2009, Plaintiff filed the instant action. Pursuant to the Court's Case Management Order, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("Jt. Stip.") on January 13, 2010.

THE FIVE-STEP SEQUENTIAL EVALUATION PROCESS

To qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must demonstrate a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that prevents him from engaging in substantial gainful activity and that is expected to result in death or to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months.*fn1 Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 721 (9th Cir. 1998) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A)). The impairment must render the claimant incapable of performing the work he previously performed and incapable of performing any other substantial gainful employment that exists in the national economy. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A)).

To decide if a claimant is entitled to benefits, an ALJ conducts a five-step inquiry. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. The steps are:

(1) Is the claimant presently engaged in substantial gainful activity? If so, the claimant is found not disabled. If not, proceed to step two.

(2) Is the claimant's impairment severe? If not, the claimant is found not disabled. If so, proceed to step three.

(3) Does the claimant's impairment meet or equal the requirements of any impairment listed at 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1? If so, the claimant is found disabled. If not, proceed to step four.

(4) Is the claimant capable of performing his past work? If so, the claimant is found not disabled. If not, proceed to step five.

(5) Is the claimant able to do any other work? If not, the claimant is found disabled. If so, the claimant is found not disabled.

Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098-99; see also Bustamante v. Massanari, 262 F.3d 949, 953-54 (9th Cir. 2001); 20 ...


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