The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jennifer L. Thurston United States Magistrate Judge
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (Doc. 20) ORDER REMANDING THE MATTER PURSUANT TO SENTENCE FOUR OF 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) ORDER DIRECTING ENTRY OF JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF PLAINTIFF CHERYL L. CHAMPION AND AGAINST DEFENDANT MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
Cheryl Champion ("Plaintiff") asserts she is entitled to disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act. Plaintiff argues the administrative law judge ("ALJ") erred in evaluating the medical evidence and her subjective complaints. Therefore, Plaintiff seeks judicial review of the administrative decision denying her claim for benefits.
For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's motion for summary judgment is DENIED, and the matter is REMANDED for further proceedings.
Plaintiff filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits on May 1, 2008, alleging disability beginning January 1, 2007. (Doc. 13-6 at 2). The Social Security Administration denied her claim initially on September 26, 2008, and upon reconsideration on July 9, 5 2009. (Doc. 12-4). After requesting a hearing, Plaintiff testified before an ALJ on June 23, 2010. 6 (Doc. 13-3 at 43). 7
The ALJ determined Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social Security Act, and issued an 8 order denying benefits on November 13, 2009. Id. at 18-26. Plaintiff requested a review by The 9 Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on June 14, 2011. Id. at 2-7. Therefore, the ALJ's determination became the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner").
District courts have a limited scope of judicial review for disability claims after a decision by the Commissioner to deny benefits under the Social Security Act. When reviewing findings of fact, such as whether a claimant was disabled, the Court must determine whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by substantial evidence or is based on legal error. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The ALJ's determination that the claimant is not disabled must be upheld by the Court if the proper legal standards were applied and the findings are supported by substantial evidence. See Sanchez v. Sec'y of Health & Human Serv., 812 F.2d 509, 510 (9th Cir. 1987).
Substantial evidence is "more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quoting Consol. Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197 (1938)). The record as a whole must be considered, because "[t]he court must consider both evidence that supports and evidence that detracts from the ALJ's conclusion." Jones v. Heckler, 760 F.2d 993, 995 (9th Cir. 1985).
To qualify for benefits under the Social Security Act, Plaintiff must establish she is unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A). An individual shall be considered to have a disability only if: physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work, but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy, regardless of whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or whether he would be hired if he applied for work.
42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(B). The burden of proof is on a claimant to establish disability. Terry v. Sullivan, 903 F.2d 1273, 1275 (9th Cir. 1990). When a claimant establishes a prima facie case of 7 disability, the burden shifts to the Commissioner to prove the claimant is able to engage in other 8 substantial gainful employment. Maounis v. Heckler, 738 F.2d 1032, 1034 (9th Cir. 1984).
DETERMINATION OF DISABILITY
To achieve uniform decisions, the Commissioner established a sequential five-step process for evaluating a claimant's alleged disability. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520 (a)-(f). The process requires the ALJ to determine whether Plaintiff (1) engaged in substantial gainful activity during the period of alleged disability, (2) had medically determinable severe impairments (3) that met or equaled one of the listed impairments set forth in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1; and whether Plaintiff (4) had the residual functional capacity to perform to past relevant work or (5) the ability to perform other work existing in ...