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Vargas v. Colvin

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 4, 2013

ROSA MARIA VARGAS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, [1] Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND

CHARLES F. EICK, Magistrate Judge.

Pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff's and Defendant's motions for summary judgment are denied and this matter is remanded for further administrative action consistent with this Opinion.

PROCEEDINGS

Plaintiff filed a complaint on March 28, 2013, seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of disability insurance benefits. The parties filed a consent to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge on May 10, 2013. Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on September 24, 2013. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on November 20, 2013. The Court has taken the motions under submission without oral argument. See L.R. 7-15; "Order, " filed April 1, 2013.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

Plaintiff, a former stock clerk, alleges disability since July 30, 2004, based on a combination of exertional and non-exertional impairments (Administrative Record ("A.R.") 30-941). Plaintiff's last insured date was December 31, 2009, at which time Plaintiff was 52 years old (A.R. 31, 47, 357).

In the most recent administrative decision, an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") found that "[t]hrough the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: osteoarthritis of the back, both hands, and both knees; as well as depression, and other psychological factors affecting her physical medical condition; and diabetes" (A.R. 33). The ALJ found that "[t]hrough the date last insured, the claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work" (A.R. 47). The ALJ also found, however, that "through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform light work... except she is precluded from climbing ladders, ropes or scaffolds; she is precluded from working at unprotected heights; she can tolerate only occasional vibration or exposure to extreme cold; she can occasionally climb ramps or stairs; she can occasionally balance, crouch, crawl, kneel, stoop, or handle or finger (bilaterally); and she is limited to simple routine tasks (A.R. 38).

A vocational expert testified that a person having the residual functional capacity the ALJ found to exist could work as a "school bus monitor... [i]n the local economy, 140 jobs; in the national economy, 5, 500" (A.R. 143).[2] In reliance on this testimony, the ALJ denied disability benefits, stating that the job of school bus monitor "existed in significant numbers in the national economy" (A.R. 48). The Appeals Council denied review (A.R. 1-3).

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), this Court reviews the Administration's decision to determine if: (1) the Administration's findings are supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the Administration used proper legal standards. See Carmickle v. Commissioner , 533 F.3d 1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai v. Astrue , 499 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007).

DISCUSSION

This case requires that the Court determine whether 140 jobs "locally" and 5, 500 jobs "nationally" constitute "significant numbers" of jobs within the meaning of 42 U.S.C. section 423(d)(2)(A). Following the rationale of the Ninth Circuit's decision in Beltran v. Astrue , 700 F.3d 386 (2012) ("Beltran"), [3] this Court concludes that these numbers of jobs are not "significant numbers" of jobs.

I. The Applicable Statute and the Burden on the ...


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