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Campoverde v. Astrue

October 4, 2010

FRANCOISE CAMPOVERDE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Mcdermott United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REVERSING DECISION OF COMMISSIONER AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

PROCEEDINGS

On August 27, 2009, Francoise Campoverde ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant") filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for both Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on January 27, 2010. On April 7, 2010, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS").

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties consented to proceed before the Magistrate Judge. The matter is now ready for decision. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record ("AR"), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision should be reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings in accordance with law and with this Memorandum Opinion and Order.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a 40 year old female who was determined to have the medically determinable severe impairments of bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, status post surgery and right thumb fusion, status post surgery. (AR 12.) Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 1, 2005, the alleged onset date. (AR 12.)

Plaintiff's claim was denied initially on September 9, 2005, and on reconsideration on March 1, 2007. (AR 10.) She filed a timely request for hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Ariel Sotolongo on January 9, 2008, in Los Angeles, California. (AR 10, 21-60.) Claimant appeared and testified. (AR 10.) So did medical expert Dr. Arthur Brovender and vocational expert Sandra Trost. (AR 10.) The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on June 4, 2008. (AR 20.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity ("RFC")*fn1 to perform light work except she is able to perform postural activities occasionally but is unable to climb ropes, scaffolding or ladders, and is unable to work at unprotected heights. The ALJ also determined that she is able to occasionally push/pull, and handle/finger with the right upper extremity and is able to frequently push/pull and handle/finger with the left upper extremity. (AR 14.)

The ALJ determined at step four of the sequential process that Claimant is unable to perform her prior relevant work as a legal secretary, film editor, cost clerk and assistant buyer. (AR 18.) These jobs require frequent handling beyond the Claimant's RFC. (AR 18.)

Nonetheless, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff could perform other jobs in the national economy. (AR 19.) The vocational expert testified that she could perform occupations such as call out operator (sedentary; 1,965 locally and 151,094 nationally) or counter clerk photo (light; 1,479 locally and 58,267 nationally). (AR 19.) As a result, the ALJ decision concludes that Claimant has not been under a disability as defined by the Social Security Act from the onset date through the date of the ALJ's decision. (AR 19.)

Plaintiff requested review of the ALJ's June 4, 2008, decision by the Appeals Council, which denied review on June 24, 2009.

DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, the disputed issues that Plaintiff is raising as grounds for reversal are as follows:

1. Whether the ALJ properly considered Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity.

2. Whether the ALJ properly considered whether Plaintiff could perform a ...


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