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Shalon E. Goodlow v. Michael J. Astrue

August 9, 2011

SHALON E. GOODLOW, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Sheri Pym United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I.

INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

On September 7, 2010, plaintiff Shalon E. Goodlow filed a complaint against defendant Michael J. Astrue, seeking a review of a denial of disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI"). Docket No. 3.

On March 10, 2011, defendant filed his answer, along with a certified copy of the administrative record. Docket Nos. 12, 13.

On April 15, 2011, this matter was transferred to the calender of the undersigned Magistrate Judge. Docket No. 23. Both plaintiff and defendant subsequently consented to proceed for all purposes before the Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Docket Nos. 26, 27.

Pursuant to a September 7, 2010 case management order, the parties submitted a detailed, 17-page joint stipulation for decision on June 14, 2011. Docket No. 29. The court deems the matter suitable for adjudication without oral argument.

In sum, having carefully studied, inter alia, the parties' joint stipulation and the administrative record, the court concludes that, as detailed herein, the Administrate Law Judge ("ALJ") failed to make specific findings of the relation of plaintiff's residual functional capacity to the physical and mental demands of her past relevant work. Therefore, the court 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 43 years old on the date of her January 26, 2010 administrative hearing, has a high school education and vocational certification for computer technology. See Administrative Record ("AR") at 28, 32, 33, 98, 105, 123. Her past relevant work includes employment as a security guard. Id. at 35, 118, 147.

On June 17, 2008, plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI, alleging that she has been disabled since August 23, 2007 due to back, neck, and knee problems. See AR at 11, 56, 96-104, 105-07. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration, after which she filed a request for a hearing. Id. at 52, 53, 54, 55, 56-60, 64-68, 69-70, 71-72.

On January 26, 2010, plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared and testified at a hearing before the ALJ. AR at 28-46, 50. The ALJ also heard testimony from Randi Hetrick, a vocational expert ("VE"). Id. at 46-49.

On February 12, 2010, the ALJ denied plaintiff's request for benefits. AR at 11-17. Applying the well-known five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found, at step one, that plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful ...


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