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Graciela Gudino v. Michael J. Astrue

February 6, 2012

GRACIELA GUDINO, 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 24, 2010, plaintiff Graciela Gudino ("plaintiff") filed a Complaint seeking review of the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of plaintiff's applications 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; December 9, 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.

II. BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

On July 10, 2007, plaintiff filed applications for Supplemental Security Income benefits and Disability Insurance Benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") 118, 123). Plaintiff asserted that she became disabled on November 27, 2006, due to invasive breast cancer, carpal tunnel, tendonitis, chronic pain, depression, and severe arthritis. (AR 137). The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") examined the medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff (who was represented by counsel and assisted by a Spanish language interpreter) and a vocational expert on July 6, 2009. (AR 23-59).

On October 7, 2009, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision. (AR 12). Specifically, the ALJ found:

(1) plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: history of breast cancer (treated without recurrence) and joint pain (AR 14); (2) plaintiff's impairments, considered singly or in combination, did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments (AR 15); (3) plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of light work (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b), 416.967(b)) (AR 15); (4) plaintiff could not perform her past relevant work (AR 21); (5) there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could perform (AR 21-22); and (6) plaintiff's allegations regarding her limitations were not credible to the extent they were inconsistent with the ALJ's residual functional capacity assessment (AR 18).

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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