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Tanya Tagle v. Michael J. Astrue

September 21, 2012

TANYA TAGLE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheri Pym United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

On October 14, 2011, plaintiff Tanya Tagle filed a first amended complaint against defendant Michael J. Astrue, seeking a review of a denial of supplemental security income ("SSI"). Both plaintiff and defendant have consented to proceed for all purposes before the assigned Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The court deems the matter suitable for adjudication without oral argument.

Plaintiff presents one disputed issue for decision: whether the administrative law judge ("ALJ") properly considered plaintiff's credibility.

Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Plaintiff's Complaint ("Pl. Mem.") at 4-12; Memorandum in Support of Defendant's Answer ("D. Mem.") at 2-3.

Having carefully studied, inter alia, the parties's written submissions, the Administrative Record ("AR"), and the decision of the ALJ, the court concludes that, as detailed herein, the ALJ improperly discounted plaintiff's credibility. Therefore, the court remands this matter to the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") in accordance with the principles and instructions enunciated in this Memorandum Opinion and Order.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, who was 39 years old on the date of her December 10, 2009 administrative hearing, is a high school graduate with a certificate for medical assisting. AR at 53, 76. Her past relevant work includes employment as a retail sales clerk and pharmacy clerk. Id. at 98.

On January 16, 2007, petitioner, unrepresented, filed an application for disability insurance benefits and SSI, alleging an onset date of January 1, 2007. *fn1

Id. at 108. ALJ Philip J. Simon denied the claim at the first step. Id. at 111.

On September 17, 2008, petitioner filed a second application for SSI, alleging an onset date of June 22, 2007, due to scoliosis, depression, anxiety, degenerative disc disease, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Id. at 126, 157-63, 200, 205. The Commissioner denied plaintiff's application initially, after which she filed a request for a hearing. Id. at 126-31.

On December 10, 2009, petitioner, represented by counsel, appeared and testified at a hearing before ALJ Michael J. Kopicki. Id. at 71-104. Howard Goldfarb, a vocational expert, also provided testimony. Id. at 98-103. The ALJ denied benefits on December 21, 2009. Id. at 25-35. *fn2

Applying the well-known five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found, at step one, that plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 22, 2007, the alleged onset date. Id. at 28.

At step two, the ALJ found that plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: fibromyalgia; degenerative disc disease of ...


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