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Milisia Ann Lowe v. Carolyn W. Colvin

April 30, 2013

MILISIA ANN LOWE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,*FN1 ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Jacqueline Chooljian United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND

I. SUMMARY

On November 8, 2012, plaintiff Milisia Ann Lowe ("plaintiff") filed a Complaint seeking review of the Commissioner of Social Security's denial of plaintiff's application for benefits. The parties have consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment, respectively ("Plaintiff's Motion") and ("Defendant's Motion"). The Court has taken both motions under submission without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78; L.R. 7-15; November 19, 2012 Case Management Order ¶ 5.

Based on the record as a whole and the applicable law, the decision of the Commissioner is REVERSED AND REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this Memorandum Opinion and Order of Remand.

II. BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

On April 14, 2009, plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Security Income benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") 15, 116). Plaintiff asserted that she became disabled on January 1, 2002, due to paranoid schizophrenia, high blood pressure, liver problems, arthritis, and degenerative disc disease. (AR 136). The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") examined the medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff (who was represented by counsel) and a vocational expert on March 9, 2011. (AR 27-42).

On April 1, 2011, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision. (AR 15-22). Specifically, the ALJ found:

(1) plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine with spinal stenosis, depression, and anxiety (AR 17);

(2) plaintiff's impairments, considered singly or in combination, did not meet or medically equal a listed impairment (AR 17); (3) plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform light work (20 C.F.R. § 416.967(b)) with additional limitations (AR 18); (4) plaintiff had no past relevant work (AR 20); (5) there are *fn2 jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could perform, specifically garment sorter and electronics worker (AR 21); and (6) plaintiff's allegations regarding her limitations were not credible to the extent they were inconsistent with the ALJ's residual functional capacity assessment (AR 20).

The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's application for review. (AR 1).

III. APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Sequential Evaluation Process

To qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must show that the claimant is unable "to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1110 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting 42 U.S.C. ยง 423(d)(1)(A)) (internal quotation marks omitted). The impairment must render the claimant incapable of performing the work claimant previously performed and incapable of performing any other ...


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