United States District Court, C.D. California
For Donna Hearn Phillips, Plaintiff: Monica Perales, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of Lawrence D Rohlfing, Santa Fe Springs, CA.
For Carolyn W Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant: Susan L Smith, LEAD ATTORNEY, SAUSA - Office of U.S. Attorney, San Francisco, CA; Assistant U.S. Attorney LA-CV, Office of U.S. Attorney, Los Angeles, CA; Assistant U.S. Attorney LA-SSA, Office of the General Counsel for Social Security Adm., San Francisco, CA.
DECISION AND ORDER
CARLA M. WOEHRLE, United States Magistrate Judge.
On November 18, 2013, Donna Hearn Phillips (" Plaintiff") filed a Complaint seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of her application for disability insurance benefits. Thereafter, the parties filed a Consent to Proceed Before United States Magistrate Judge Carla Woehrle. On June 10, 2014, Defendant filed an Answer to Complaint. On October 17, 2014, the parties filed their Corrected Joint Stipulation.
As discussed below, the Court finds that the Commissioner's decision should be reversed and this matter remanded for further proceedings.
On December 7, 2009, Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits. (Administrative Record [" AR" ] at 158-61.) Plaintiff alleged that, beginning on October 30, 2008, she was unable to work due to a herniated disk compressing her back and leg nerves, wrist problems, depression and anxiety. (AR at 107, 117, 158.) The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's application initially and upon review. (AR at 107-10, 117-22.)
On or about January 13, 2011, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (" ALJ"). (AR at 123-24.) The ALJ conducted a hearing on February 27, 2012. (AR at 71-95.) Plaintiff appeared at the hearing with her counsel and testified. (AR at 75-86, 87-88, 91-94.) A vocational expert (" VE") also testified. (AR at 86-91.)
On April 24, 2012, the ALJ issued his decision denying benefits. (AR at 26-42.) In his decision, the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffers from " disorders of the back, " which are " severe" impairments. (AR at 31.) Nevertheless, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff retains the residual functional capacity (" RFC") to " perform sedentary work... except [she must have the ability to] alternate between sitting and standing throughout the workday at her discretion without interference in the performance of her work duties." (AR at 32.)
The ALJ determined that Plaintiff would not be able to perform her past relevant work as a secretary, administrative assistant, and receptionist. (AR at 35.) Nevertheless, considering Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were significant numbers of jobs that she would be able to perform. Specifically, the ALJ found that Plaintiff would be able to perform the jobs of optical assembler, assembler of buttons and notions, and food and beverage order clerk. (AR at 36.) Ultimately, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the Social Security Act. (AR at 37.)
On June 12, 2012, Plaintiff filed a timely request with the Appeals Council for a review of the ALJ's decision. (AR at 22.) The Appeals Council subsequently affirmed the ALJ's decision. (AR at 11-16.)
In the Joint Stipulation, Plaintiff raises the ...