United States District Court, C.D. California
ORDER REVERSING DECISION OF COMMISSIONER AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS
ROBERT N. BLOCK, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff filed a Complaint herein on August 28, 2013, seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of his application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") and a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"). In accordance with the Court's Case Management Order, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation on May 6, 2014. Thus, this matter now is ready for decision.
As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, the disputed issues that plaintiff is raising as the grounds for reversal and remand are as follows:
1. Whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly included all of plaintiff's "severe" impairments in his step two determination.
2. Whether remand for further administrative proceedings is warranted for consideration of a subsequent favorable decision by the Commissioner.
3. Whether the ALJ committed reversible error by not calling a vocational expert or medical expert at the administrative hearing.
4. Whether the ALJ properly determined plaintiff's residual functional capacity ("RFC").
The threshold issue is whether this case should be remanded under Sentence Six of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for consideration of new and material evidence. (See Jt Stip at 11-19.) The evidence at issue is a favorable decision by the Commissioner that was issued after the ALJ's initial decision to deny benefits.
On May 14, 2010, plaintiff protectively filed applications for DIB and SSI benefits, alleging disability since September 17, 2008. (See AR 13.) After the applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration, plaintiff requested an administrative hearing, which was held on January 6, 2012. (See AR 34.) On February 15, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. (See AR 13-21.)
Plaintiff sought review in the Appeals Council and submitted, for the first time, a medical opinion by Dr. Deltore-Diaz. (See AR 5, 369-72.) The Appeals Council received Dr. Deltore-Diaz's opinion and made it a part of the record. (See AR 5.) On June 24, 2013, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review. (See AR 1.)
Plaintiff filed, on an unknown date, a new application for disability benefits. In an award letter dated December 17, 2013, the Commissioner approved plaintiff's application and found that he was disabled as of June 27, 2013. (See Jt Stip, Exhibit A.) The award letter did not specify how the Commissioner calculated that disability onset date or what the Commissioner found to be the medical basis for plaintiff's disability. A letter by plaintiff's attorney ...