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Mirna Carpio v. Michael J. Astrue

January 25, 2011

MIRNA CARPIO, 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

On December 10, 2009, Mirna Carpio ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant") filed a Complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") denying her applications for disability benefits under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. On July 2, 2010, the Commissioner filed an Answer to the Complaint. On September 7, 2010, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS") setting forth their positions and the issues in dispute.

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

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was born on October 31, 1957, and was 46 years old on her alleged disability onset date of July 4, 2004. (AR 60.) Plaintiff filed applications for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income on May 4, 2006, and May 10, 2006, respectively. (AR 19, 60-64.) Plaintiff claims she is disabled due to back and shoulder pain, hypertension, and diabetes. (AR 76.) Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 4, 2004. (AR 21.)

Plaintiff's claim was denied initially on September 8, 2006. (AR 45-49.) Plaintiff filed a timely request for hearing on October 11, 2006. (AR 50.) Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing held on October 30, 2007, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Mary L. Everstine. (AR 399-421.) The ALJ issued a decision denying benefits on November 29, 2007. (AR 19-25.) On December 6, 2007, Plaintiff filed a timely request for review of the ALJ's decision. (AR 11.) The Appeals Council denied review on November 2, 2009. (AR 3A-5.) Plaintiff then commenced the present action.

DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, there are four disputed issues:

1. Whether the ALJ properly evaluated Plaintiff's subjective symptom testimony;

2. Whether the ALJ properly evaluated the opinions of two treating physicians, Drs. Newman and Bonyadlou;

3. Whether the ALJ properly evaluated the opinion of an examining physician, Dr. Hasday; and

4. Whether the ALJ properly evaluated Plaintiff's mental impairment. (JS at 3.)

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the ALJ's decision to determine whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence and free of legal error. Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see also DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991) (ALJ's disability determination ...


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