United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
VICTOR B. KENTON, Magistrate Judge.
This matter is before the Court for review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff's application for disability benefits. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(c), the parties have consented that the case may be handled by the Magistrate Judge. The action arises under 42 U.S.C. §405(g), which authorizes the Court to enter judgment upon the pleadings and transcript of the Administrative Record ("AR") before the Commissioner. The parties have filed the Joint Stipulation ("JS"), and the Commissioner has filed the certified AR.
Plaintiff raises the following issues:
1. Whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly considered the relevant medical evidence of record in regard to assessing Plaintiff's residual functional capacity; and
2. Whether the ALJ properly considered Plaintiff's subjective complaints and properly assessed her credibility as well as those statements made by Plaintiff's daughter.
(JS at 3-4.)
This Memorandum Opinion will constitute the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law. After reviewing the matter, the Court concludes that for the reasons set forth, the decision of the Commissioner must be reversed and the matter remanded for a de novo hearing.
THE ALJ ERRED BY FAILING TO ADDRESS CHRONIC FATIGUE SYNDROME
In Plaintiff's first issue, she asserts that the ALJ did not properly consider the relevant medical evidence in determining the question of disability.
Following the well-recognized five-step Sequential Evaluation (AR 19-20), the ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: lumbosacral strain; status-post bladder injury; hypertension; obesity; small calcaneal spurs; major depressive disorder; anxiety disorder; and possible borderline intellectual functioning. (AR 20.) The ALJ also specifically determined that Plaintiff has certain impairments which are not severe: mild degenerative joint disease of the right foot; minimal changes in the knees, bilaterally; and abdominal pain. (AR 21.) The ALJ failed to address Chronic Fatigue Syndrome ("CFS"), the omission of which forms the basis for the Court's reversal of the Decision.
The ALJ determined that Plaintiff's impairments or combination of impairments do not meet or equal any of the Listings. He then determined that Plaintiff's residual functional capacity ("RFC") allows her to "perform medium work with frequent postural activity; a restroom that must be in close proximity to the work area; and limitation to simple and routine tasks performable by a non-English speaking person."
At the hearing held on September 24, 2012, Plaintiff was represented by an attorney, and testified. The ALJ also heard testimony from a vocational expert ("VE"). (AR 33-57.)
Considering the Plaintiff's vocational background and testimony, and the testimony of the VE, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff is capable of performing her past relevant work ("PRW"), as identified in the Decision. (AR 27-28.) Consequently, the ALJ did not reach Step Five of ...