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Escamilla v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division

May 29, 2015

RICHARD ESCAMILLA, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND

ALKA SAGAR, Magistrate Judge.

Pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this matter is remanded for further administrative action consistent with this Opinion.

PROCEEDINGS

On September 19, 2013, Plaintiff filed a Complaint seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of Plaintiff's application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental Social Security Income (Docket Entry No. 3). On January 31, 2014, Defendant filed an Answer and the Administrative Record ("AR"). (Docket Entry Nos. 14, 15). The parties have consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge. (Docket Entry Nos. 8, 11). On April 14, 2014, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("Joint Stip.") setting forth their respective positions regarding Plaintiff's claims. (Docket Entry No. 16).

The Court has taken this matter under submission without oral argument. See C.D. Local R. 7-15; "Order Re: Procedures in Social Security Case, " filed September 20, 2013 (Docket Entry No. 7).

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

On April 21, 2009, Plaintiff, a former assistant representative in a warehouse, filed applications for a period of disability or Disability Insurance Benefits and for Supplemental Social Security Income, alleging an inability to work since September 30, 2006. (See AR 108-18). On November 22, 2011, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), Dale A. Garwal, examined the record and heard testimony from Plaintiff and vocational expert Sharon Spaventa. (Id. 36-50). On January 23, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's applications. The ALJ determined that from the date after the denial of Plaintiff's prior application for Disability Insurance Benefits (January 9, 2008) through the date last insured (September 30, 2012), Plaintiff had severe impairments - diabetes, poorly controlled, cervical and thoracic degenerative disc disease, cervical spondylosis, hepatitis C, seizures, and depression - but found that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (See AR 18-29).

Following the Appeals Council's denial of Plaintiff's request for a review of the hearing decision (see AR 1-4), Plaintiff filed this action in this Court.

PLAINTIFF'S CONTENTIONS

Plaintiff makes four challenges to the ALJ's Decision. Plaintiff alleges the ALJ erred in: (1) refusing to consider medical evidence dating from before 2008 when Plaintiff's prior claim was denied; (2) discounting the marked functional limitations found by the psychological consultative examiner; (3) finding that Plaintiff was not fully credible; and (4) failing to fully and fairly develop the record by not sending Plaintiff to an orthopedic consultative examination. (See Joint Stip. at 2-10, 14-17, 25-27, 29).

DISCUSSION

After consideration of the record as a whole, the Court finds that Plaintiff's first claim of error has merit and warrants a remand for further consideration. Since the Court is remanding the matter based on Plaintiff's first claim of error, the Court will not address Plaintiff's second through fourth claims of error.

A. Failure to Consider Medical Records Prior to 2008

Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ committed reversible error by refusing to consider medical evidence (specifically, records from Channel Islands Orthopedics) dating from before 2008 when Plaintiff's prior claim was denied. (See Joint Stip. at 3-7). Defendant asserts ...


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