The opinion of the court was delivered by: Suzanne H. Segal United States Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Christopher Mosqueda ("Plaintiff") brings this action seeking to reverse and remand the decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the "Commissioner" or the "Agency") denying his application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits. 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 Commissioner is REVERSED and REMANDED for further proceedings.
On June 30, 2004, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI benefits alleging a disability beginning on August 1, 1998. (Administrative Record ("AR") 38-41). This application was denied on August 27, 2004, and again upon reconsideration on October 8, 2004. (AR 42, 49). Plaintiff then requested a hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") F. Keith Varni on September 26, 2005. (AR 20, 54). Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified. (AR 202-05). Mary Mosquda, Plaintiff's mother, also testified at the hearing. (AR 206-09).
On December 9, 2005, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. (AR 17-25). Plaintiff sought and was granted review of this decision before the Appeals Council. (AR 16). On March 8, 2006, the Appeals Council remanded the case to the ALJ for further proceedings. (AR 12). The Appeals Council instructed the ALJ to evaluate Plaintiff's mental impairment "in accordance with the special technique described in 20 C.F.R. § 416.920a," develop the record regarding Plaintiff's mental condition and give further consideration to Plaintiff's residual functional capacity ("RFC"). (AR 13-14).
Thereafter, Plaintiff appeared and testified at a March 21, 2007 hearing before the ALJ. (AR 364-79). Vocational Expert Troy Scott (the "VE") also testified. (AR 380-82). On April 4, 2007, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. (AR 215-24). Thereafter, Plaintiff requested a review of the hearing decision, which was denied by the Appeals Council on June 26, 2009. (AR 211-13). Plaintiff filed the instant action on July 29, 2009. Pursuant to the Court's Case Management Order, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("Jt. Stip.") on May 14, 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*fn1 result in death or to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months. 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 ...