United States District Court, C.D. California
BRUCE M. SMITH, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND
HONORABLE JACQUELINE CHOOLJIAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
December 21, 2015, Bruce M. Smith (“plaintiff”)
filed a Complaint seeking review of the Commissioner of
Social Security’s denial of plaintiff’s
applications for benefits. The parties have consented to
proceed before the undersigned United States Magistrate
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; December 22, 2015
Case Management Order ¶ 5.
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
BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION
15, 2011, plaintiff filed applications for Supplemental
Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits alleging
disability on July 15, 2011, due to arthritis in both knees,
diabetes (type II), high blood pressure, obesity, and kidney
stones. (Administrative Record (“AR”) 20, 128,
136, 162). The ALJ examined the medical record and heard
testimony from plaintiff (who was represented by counsel) and
a vocational expert on January 7, 2014. (AR 36-64).
March 14, 2014, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not
disabled through the date of the decision. (AR 20-26).
Specifically, the ALJ found: (1) plaintiff suffered from the
following severe impairments: morbid obesity, type II
diabetes, and hip and knee pain (AR 22); (2)
plaintiff’s impairments, considered singly or in
combination, did not meet or medically equal a listed
impairment (AR 23); (3) plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity to perform medium work (20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1567(c), 416.967(c)), and specifically could
lift/carry 25 pounds frequently and 50 pounds occasionally,
but was further limited to occasional climbing, kneeling, and
crawling (AR 23); (4) plaintiff was able to perform his past
relevant work as a warehouse worker and a delivery driver (AR
25); and (5) plaintiff’s allegations regarding the
intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of subjective
symptoms were not entirely credible (AR 24).
Appeals Council denied plaintiff’s application for
review. (AR 1).
APPLICABLE LEGAL STANDARDS
Sequential Evaluation Process
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)).
assessing whether a claimant is disabled, an ALJ is required
to use the following five-step sequential evaluation process:
(1) Is the claimant presently engaged in substantial gainful
activity? If so, the claimant is not disabled. If ...