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Grier v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 21, 2015

MICHELLE A. GRIER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REVERSING DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY

JOHN E. McDERMOTT, Magistrate Judge.

PROCEEDINGS

On August 13, 2014, Michelle A. Grier ("Plaintiff" or "Claimant") filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on November 13, 2014. On March 31, 2015, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS"). The matter is now ready for decision.

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(c), both parties consented to proceed before this Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record ("AR"), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision must be reversed and this case remanded for further proceedings in accordance with this Memorandum Opinion and Order and with law.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff is a 56-year-old female who applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits on December 15, 2010, alleging disability beginning July 12, 2007. (AR 16.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of July 12, 2007 through her date last insured of December 31, 2011. (AR 18.)

Plaintiff's claim was denied initially on September 15, 2011. (AR 16.) Plaintiff filed a timely request for hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Sharilyn Hopson on December 12, 2012 in Orange, California. (AR 16.) Claimant appeared and testified at the hearing but was not represented by counsel. (AR 16.) Medical Expert ("MA") John R. Morse, M.D., and vocational expert ("VA") Kelly Winn-Boaitey also appeared and testified at the hearing. (AR 16.)

The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on December 19, 2012. (AR 16-26.) After considering new evidence, the Appeals Council denied review on June 10, 2014. (AR 1-3.)

DISPUTED ISSUES

As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, Plaintiff raises the following disputed issues as grounds for reversal and remand:

1. Whether the ALJ failed in her duty to develop the record by not obtaining pertinent medical documentation where Plaintiff was not represented, and has mental disabilities.
2. Whether the ALJ failed to give proper weight to treating physicians, and failed to support her reliance on the telephonic testimony by the non-treating, non-examining Medical Expert.
3. Whether the ALJ's adverse credibility finding is legally and factually inadequate.
4. Whether the ALJ failed to support her decision to give less weight to the corroborating testimony ...

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