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Veronica Campos v. Carolyn W. Colvin

March 4, 2013

VERONICA CAMPOS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING 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 AN AWARD OF BENEFITS PROCEEDINGS

On May 1, 2012, Veronica Campos ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant") filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's applications for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on August 6, 2012. On January 30, 2013, 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 an award of benefits.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a 34 year old female who applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits on May 4, 2009, and Supplemental Security Income benefits on May 1, 2009. (AR 24.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 1, 2008, the alleged onset date of her disability. (AR 26.)

Plaintiff's claims were denied initially on August 31, 2009, and on reconsideration on February 18, 2010. (AR 24.) Plaintiff filed a timely request for hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Jeffrey A. Hatfield on February 14, 2011, in Palmdale, California. (AR 24.) Claimant appeared and testified at the hearing and was represented by counsel. (AR 24.) Vocational expert ("VE") Randi Langford-Hetrick also appeared and testified at the hearing. (AR 24.)

The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on March 3, 2011. (AR 24-30.) The Appeals Council denied review on March 29, 2012. (AR 1-6.)

DISPUTED ISSUES

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

1. Whether the ALJ erred in the assessment of Plaintiff's physical residual functional capacity.

2. Whether the ALJ erred in the credibility findings.

3. Whether the ALJ erred in relying on the vocational expert's response to an incomplete hypothetical question.

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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