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David Yonko v. Michael J. Astrue

October 28, 2011

DAVID YONKO, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Jacqueline Chooljian United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND

I. SUMMARY

On November 18, 2010, plaintiff David M. Yonko ("plaintiff") filed a Complaint seeking review of the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of plaintiff's application for benefits. The parties have consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment, respectively ("Plaintiff's Motion") and ("Defendant's Motion"). The Court has taken both motions under submission without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15; November 19, 2010 Case Management Order ¶ 5.

Based on the record as a whole and the applicable law, the decision of the Commissioner is REVERSED AND REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this Memorandum Opinion and Order of Remand because the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") failed properly to consider the medical opinion evidence.

II. BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

On November 7, 2007, plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Security Income benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") 18, 93-95). Plaintiff asserted that he became disabled on January 1, 1994, due to depression, chronic diabetes and blindness. (AR 105-06). The ALJ examined the medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff (who was represented by counsel) and a vocational expert on January 21, 2010. (AR 30-38).

On February 5, 2010, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision. (AR 18). Specifically, the ALJ found:

(1) plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: bipolar disorder, diabetes, hypertension, hip pain and obesity (AR 20); (2) plaintiff's impairments, considered singly or in combination, did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments (AR 20); (3) plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform light work (20 C.F.R. § 416.967(b)) with certain additional limitations*fn1 (AR 20); (4) plaintiff has no past relevant work (AR 23); (5) there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could perform, specifically assembler and mail sorter (AR 24); and (6) plaintiff's allegations regarding his limitations were not credible to the extent they were inconsistent with the ALJ's residual functional capacity assessment. (AR 21).

The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's application for review. (AR 1).

III. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Sequential Evaluation Process

To qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must show that the claimant is unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months. Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing 42 U.S.C. ยง 423(d)(1)(A)). The impairment must render the claimant incapable of performing the work claimant previously performed and incapable of performing any other substantial ...


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