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Roza Khachatryan v. Michael J. Astrue

June 13, 2012

ROZA KHACHATRYAN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John E. Mcdermott United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REVERSING DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

PROCEEDINGS

On October 7, 2011, Roza Khachatryan ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant") filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for Supplemental Security Income benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on January 30, 2012. On April 27, 2012, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS"). The matter is now ready for decision.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties consented to proceed before this Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record ("AR"), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision must be reversed and remanded for further proceedings in accordance with this Memorandum Opinion and Order and with law.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a 60 year old female, who the ALJ found applied for Supplemental Security Income benefits ("SSI") on October 31, 2005. (AR 18.) Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since that date. (AR 20.) At the June 17, 2009, hearing, Claimant's counsel argued that the application for Supplemental Security Income benefits was dated March 1, 2005. However, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), Gail Reich, found that the record showed the application date was October 31, 2005. (AR 18.)

Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and on reconsideration on August 22, 2007. (AR 18.) Plaintiff filed a timely request for hearing, which was held before ALJ Gail Reich on June 17, 2009, in West Los Angeles, California. (AR 18.) Claimant appeared and testified at the hearing and was represented by counsel. (AR 18.) An Armenian interpreter also was present. (AR 18.) Medical expert Thomas J. Maxwell, M.D., and vocational expert ("VE") June C. Hagen also appeared and testified at the hearing. (AR 18.) The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on September 15, 2009. (AR 18-27.) The Appeals Council denied review on August 5, 2011. (AR 5-7.)

DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, Plaintiff raises the following disputed issues as grounds for reversal and remand:

1. Whether the ALJ properly adjudicated the period covered by the unavailable application.

2. Whether the ALJ properly considered the presence of a medically determinable mental impairment.

3. Whether the ALJ properly found the application of recent education to other work.

4. Whether the ALJ properly found the ability to perform work without finding little if any vocational adjustment.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court reviews the ALJ's decision to determine whether the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence and free of legal error. Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996); see also DeLorme v. Sullivan, 924 F.2d 841, 846 (9th Cir. 1991) (ALJ's disability determination ...


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