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Paez v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California

June 25, 2015

GUSTAVO PAEZ, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

KENLY KIYA KATO, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Gustavo Paez seeks review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner" or "Agency") denying his applications for Title II Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Title XVI Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"). The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the reasons stated below, the Commissioner's decision is REVERSED and this action is REMANDED for further proceedings.

I.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On August 25, 2011, Plaintiff filed separate applications for DIB and SSI. Administrative Record ("AR") at 10. The applications were denied initially on September 22, 2011, and upon reconsideration on April 16, 2012. Id.

On May 8, 2012, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). Id . On February 5, 2013, a hearing was held, before ALJ Mark B. Greenberg, at which Plaintiff was represented by counsel. Id . On March 26, 2013, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's applications. Id.

On April 9, 2013, Plaintiff asked the Agency's Appeals Council to review the ALJ's decision. Id. at 5. On July 25, 2014, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. Id. at 1.

On August 22, 2014, Plaintiff initiated the instant action. ECF No. 1. This matter is before the Court on the parties' Joint Stipulation ("JS"), filed June 5, 2015, which the Court has taken under submission without oral argument. ECF No. 18.

II.

STANDARD FOR EVALUATING DISABILITY

In order to qualify for DIB or SSI, a claimant must demonstrate a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that (1) prevents the claimant from engaging in substantial gainful activity, and (2) is expected to result in death or to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months. Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 721 (9th Cir. 1998). The impairment must render the claimant incapable of performing past relevant work and incapable of performing any other substantial gainful work that exists in the national economy. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th Cir. 1999).

To decide if a claimant is disabled, and therefore entitled to benefits, an ALJ conducts a five-step inquiry. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. The steps are:

(1) Is the claimant presently engaged in substantial gainful activity? If so, the claimant is found not disabled. ...

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