United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND
JACQUELINE CHOOLJIAN, Magistrate Judge.
On July 2, 2014, plaintiff Martin Varela ("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 9, 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 or about July 10, 2009, plaintiff filed applications for Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") 118, 125). Plaintiff asserted that he became disabled on July 1, 2008, due to seizures, mental impairment, inability to stand for a long time, and bad feet. (AR 139).
Plaintiff currently appeals an administrative decision (the second in the case) issued after this Court entered judgment reversing and remanding the case, and the Appeals Council, in turn, remanded the case to an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") to conduct further proceedings. (AR 484-94, 495-97, 989-1001). On remand, the ALJ examined the medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff (who was represented by counsel) and a vocational expert on December 30, 2013. (AR 434-55).
On April 4, 2014, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled through the date of the decision. (AR 989-1001). Specifically, the ALJ found: (1) plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: osteoarthritis and affective disorder (AR 991); (2) plaintiff's impairments, considered singly or in combination, did not meet or medically equal a listed impairment (AR 992-93); (3) plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity to perform light work (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b), 416.967(b)), but was limited to simple and routine tasks in a non-public setting (AR 993); (4) plaintiff had no past relevant work (AR 999); (5) there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could perform, specifically Inspector, Packager, and Assembler (AR 1000); and (6) plaintiff's allegations regarding his limitations were not entirely credible (AR 995).
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 substantial gainful employment that exists in the national economy. Tackett v. Apfel , 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A)).
In assessing whether a claimant is disabled, an ALJ is to follow a five-step sequential evaluation process:
(1) Is the claimant presently engaged in substantial gainful activity? If so, the claimant is not disabled. ...