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Jorge Alberto Zayas-Torres v. Michael J. Astrue

May 9, 2012

JORGE ALBERTO ZAYAS-TORRES, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: VICTOR B. Kenton United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER (Social Security Case)

This matter is before the Court for review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff's application for disability benefits. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(c), the parties have consented that the case may be handled by the Magistrate Judge. The action arises under 42 U.S.C. §405(g), which authorizes the Court to enter judgment upon the pleadings and transcript of the Administrative Record ("AR") before the Commissioner. The parties have filed the Joint Stipulation ("JS"), and the Commissioner has filed the certified AR.

Plaintiff raises the following issues:

1. Whether the Court should remand for reconciliation of the Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") decision with the subsequent allowance of benefits the date after the ALJ's decision.

2. Whether the ALJ gave proper consideration to the question of residual functional capacity.

3. Whether the ALJ gave proper consideration to Plaintiff's testimony.

(JS at 4.)

This Memorandum Opinion will constitute the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law. After reviewing the matter, the Court concludes that for the reasons set forth, the decision of the Commissioner must be reversed and the matter remanded.

I

THE COURT REMANDS FOR RECONCILIATION OF THE ALJ'S DECISION DENYING BENEFITS WITH THE CLOSE IN TIME SUBSEQUENT FINDING OF DISABILITY AND ALLOWANCE OF BENEFITS BY THE COMMISSIONER The final decision of the Commissioner in this case is based upon a Decision of the ALJ following an evidentiary hearing. (AR 26-34.) The ALJ's decision was issued on November 12, 2009, and found that Plaintiff was not disabled from his onset date, January 30, 2007, through the date of the decision. (AR 33.)

Following this determination, the Social Security Administration awarded Supplemental Security Income benefits ("SSI") to Plaintiff, based upon a claim that he filed on February 17, 2010. This Notice of Award (AR 178-193) states that as of February 2010, Plaintiff met all the rules to be eligible for SSI based on being disabled. (AR 178.)

Citing the Ninth Circuit's case in Luna v. Astrue, 623 F.3d 1032, 1035 (9th Cir. 2010), Plaintiff argues that the Court should remand this matter to the Commissioner for reconciliation of the two claims. (JS at 6.)

Plaintiff argues that, "On June 26, 2011, the Social Security Administration advised [Plaintiff] that he became entitled to disability benefits beginning May 2010 based upon an onset date of November 13, 2009. (Exhibit I.)" (JS at 5.) The Court concludes that the holding of Luna v. Astrue, supra, is controlling here and mandates remand for reconciliation by the Commissioner of the first determination denying Plaintiff benefits based on a finding of non-disability through November 12, 2009, and the second administrative determination that found Plaintiff disabled as of November 13, 2009.

In Luna, the ALJ had denied Luna's claims on January 27, 2006. While Luna's complaint was pending in District Court, he filed a second application for disability insurance benefits and SSI which was granted on August 20, 2007. In the Notice of Award, the Commissioner found Luna disabled as of January 28, 2006, one day after the date ...


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