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Pamela G. Yates v. Michael J. Astrue

April 3, 2012

PAMELA G. YATES, 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 7, 2011, plaintiff Pamela G. Yates ("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 14, 2011 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 evaluate plaintiff's credibility and the Court cannot find that the ALJ's error was harmless.

II. BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION On December 15, 2008, plaintiff filed an application for Disability

Insurance Benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") 12, 112). Plaintiff asserted that she became disabled on April 9, 2008, due to a fractured lower back and a degenerative disc and bulging disc. (AR 135). The ALJ examined the medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff (who was represented by counsel) and a vocational expert on August 24, 2010. (AR 24-48).

On August 27, 2010, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision. (AR 12-19). Specifically, the ALJ found:

(1) plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: severe degenerative disc disease at L4-L5 with mild L4-L5 radiculopathy affecting the left lower extremity (AR 14); (2) plaintiff's impairments, considered singly or in combination, did not meet or medically equal a listed impairment (AR 15-16);

(3) plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of medium work (20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(c) (AR 16); (4) plaintiff could perform her past relevant work as a private secretary/secretary (AR 18); and (5) plaintiff's allegations regarding her limitations were not credible to the extent they were inconsistent with the ALJ's residual functional capacity assessment (AR 16).

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

III. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Sequential Evaluation ...


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