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Leslie Petit v. Michael J. Astrue

September 11, 2012

LESLIE PETIT, 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 COMMISSIONER AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS PROCEEDINGS

On December 23, 2011, Leslie Petit ("Plaintiff or Claimant") filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on March 28, 2012. On August 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 the case remanded for further proceedings in accordance with this Memorandum and Order and with law.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a 63 year old female who applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits on June 5, 2009, alleging disability beginning July 1, 2008. (AR 9.) Plaintiff did engage in substantial gainful activity through August 2009, but with accommodations. (AR 11.)

Plaintiff's claim was denied initially on February 22, 2010, and on reconsideration on April 8, 2010. (AR 9.) Plaintiff filed a timely request for hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Sharilyn Hopson on April 25, 2011, in San Bernardino, California. (AR 9.) Claimant appeared and testified at the hearing, and was represented by counsel. (AR 9.) Medical expert Samuel Landau, M.D., and vocational expert ("VE") Sandra M. Fioretti also appeared and testified at the hearing. (AR 9.) The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on May 20, 2011. (AR 9-15.) The Appeals Council denied review on November 4, 2011. (AR 1-4.)

DISPUTED ISSUES

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

1. Whether the ALJ properly considered if Plaintiff meets and/or equals Listing 1.03.

2. Whether the ALJ properly considered if Plaintiff meets and/or equals Listing 1.04.

3. Whether the ALJ properly considered the demands of Plaintiff's past relevant work.

4. Whether the ALJ properly complied with SSR 96-7p in considering the impact of Plaintiff's medication side effects on her ability to perform work related tasks.

5. Whether the ALJ properly used and considered the Medical-Vocational Guidelines ("Grids") in her determination.

6. Whether the ALJ made proper credibility findings and properly considered Plaintiff's subjective symptoms.

7. Whether the ALJ provided a complete and proper assessment of Plaintiff's residual functional capacity.

8. Whether the ALJ posed a complete hypothetical question to the vocational expert.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. ยง 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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