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Nieto v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 25, 2014

SALVADOR NIETO, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND

JACQUELINE CHOOLJIAN, Magistrate Judge.

I. SUMMARY

On July 17, 2014, plaintiff Salvador Nieto ("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 the undersigned 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; July 22, 2014 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 October 17, 2008, plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") 34, 226). Plaintiff asserted that he became disabled on August 2, 1999, due to injuries from a construction accident, problems with his right leg, back, and right shoulder, dislocated disc in back with swelling, anxiety, short temper, memory loss, irritability, insomnia, and depression. (AR 12, 34, 252). The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") examined the medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff (who was represented by counsel) and a vocational expert on July 6, 2010. (AR 106-43). On July 28, 2010, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through December 31, 2004 ( i.e., the date last insured). (AR 34-41).

On February 11, 2012, the Appeals Council granted review, vacated the ALJ's July 28, 2010 decision, and remanded the matter for further administrative proceedings. (AR 12, 146-47).

On August 28, 2012, the ALJ again examined the medical record and also heard testimony from plaintiff (who was represented by counsel), a medical expert, and a vocational expert. (AR 72-104).

On October 30, 2012, the ALJ again determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date last insured.[1] (AR 12-20). Specifically, the ALJ found: (1) plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: sclerosis of the right thigh, status post trauma, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, and right shoulder impingement syndrome (AR 14); (2) plaintiff's impairments, considered singly or in combination, did not meet or medically equal a listed impairment (AR 15-16); (3) plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform light work (20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b) with additional limitations[2] (AR 16); (4) plaintiff could not perform his past relevant work (AR 19); (5) there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could perform, specifically Counter Clerk (photo finishing) and Cashier II, as well as Order Clerk (food and beverage industry) and Sticker "[i]f [plaintiff] could perform the work within the [same] residual functional capacity at the sedentary level of exertion" (AR 19-20); and (6) plaintiff's allegations regarding his limitations were not credible to the extent they were inconsistent with the ALJ's residual functional capacity assessment (AR 17).

The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's application for review of the ALJ's October 30, 2012 decision. (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. § 423(d)(1)(A)) (internal quotation marks omitted). The impairment must render the claimant incapable of performing the work the claimant previously performed and incapable of performing any other ...


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