The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jay C. Gandhi United States Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY
On June 14, 2010, plaintiff Lonnie Slemp ("Plaintiff") filed a complaint against defendant Michael J. Astrue ("Defendant"), the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, seeking review of a denial of disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income benefits ("SSI"). [Docket No. 3.]
On December 10, 2010, Defendant filed his answer, along with a certified copy of the administrative record. [Docket Nos. 12, 13.]
In sum, having carefully studied, inter alia, the parties' joint stipulation and the administrative record, the Court concludes that, as detailed below, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") improperly evaluated the opinion of Plaintiff's treating physician. The Court thus remands this matter to the Commissioner in accordance with the principles and instructions enunciated in this Memorandum Opinion and Order.
II. PERTINENT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff, who was 48 years old on the date of his administrative hearing, has completed the eleventh grade. (See Administrative Record ("AR") at 16, 76, 93.)
On October 16, 2006, Plaintiff filed for DIB and SSI, alleging that he has been disabled since July 1, 2004 due to Crohn's disease. (See AR at 9, 38, 43, 76.)
On July 30, 2008, Plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared and testified at a hearing before an ALJ. (See AR at 16-30.)
On August 29, 2008, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's request for benefits. (AR at 9-15.) Applying the well-known five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found, at step one, that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date. (Id. at 11.)
At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffers from a severe impairment of the "gastrointestinal system." (AR at 11 (emphasis omitted).)
At step three, the ALJ determined that the evidence did not demonstrate that Plaintiff's impairment, either individually or in combination, met or medically equaled the severity of any listing set forth in the Social Security regulations.*fn1 (AR at 12.)
The ALJ then assessed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity*fn2 ("RFC") and determined that he can perform medium work. (AR at 12.) Specifically, the ALJ found that Plaintiff "is precluded from climbing ladders, ropes and scaffolds; and should not work with hazardous machinery or at unprotected heights." (Id. (emphasis omitted).)
The ALJ found, at step four, that Plaintiff retained the ability to perform his past relevant work as a general laborer. (AR at 14.) Thus, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not suffering from ...