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Kelly v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. California

September 29, 2014

JANELLE KELLY, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, DENYING DEFENDANT'S CROSS-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT, VACATING ALJ'S DECISION, AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

BARRY TED MOSKOWITZ, Chief District Judge.

Plaintiff and Defendant have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED IN PART, and Defendant's motion is DENIED. The ALJ's decision is VACATED and this case is REMANDED for further proceedings.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On February 5, 2010, Plaintiff Janelle Kelly filed an application for supplemental security income benefits, alleging disability beginning February 7, 2007. The claim was denied initially on April 8, 2010, and upon reconsideration on August 28, 2010. Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). On July 25, 2011, ALJ Edward Steinman held a hearing. At the hearing, Plaintiff amended her alleged disability onset date to February 5, 2010, her protective filing date. In a decision dated July 27, 2011, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. (AR 31-40.) Plaintiff filed a request for review, which the Appeals Council denied. (AR 1-4.) In this action, Plaintiff seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

II. ALJ'S FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

The ALJ applied the five-step sequential analysis (20 C.F.R. § 416.920) to determine whether Plaintiff was disabled.[1]

The ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 5, 2010, the application date.

The ALJ found that Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: a depressive disorder and a generalized anxiety disorder.

The ALJ concluded that Plaintiff's impairment or combination of impairments do not meet or equal any of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.

The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to perform medium work, as defined in 20 C.F.R. 416.967(c), except that she would be limited to simple, repetitive tasks with only occasional public contact.

Based on the testimony of a vocational expert ("VE"), the ALJ found that Plaintiff is unable to perform any past relevant work, but that there are other jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff is able to perform. According to the VE, Plaintiff would be capable of performing 60% of the 2, 300 different medium and light job titles available. Examples of such jobs include Garment Folder (DOT # 789.687-066), Bagger (DOT # 920.687-018), and Final Assembler (DOT # 806.684-010).

Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff has not been under a "disability" as defined in the Social Security Act, since February 5, 2010.

III. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Commissioner's denial of benefits may be set aside if it is based on legal error or is not supported by substantial evidence. Jamerson v. Chater , 112 F.3d 1064, 1066 (9th Cir. 1997). Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla but less than a preponderance. Id . Substantial evidence is "relevant evidence which, considering the record as a whole, a reasonable person might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Flaten v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs. , 44 F.3d 1453, 1457 (9th Cir. 1995). If the evidence can reasonably support either ...


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