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Williams v. Colvin

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

July 28, 2016

DIAHANNA C. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND

          ALKA SAGAR UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Pursuant to Sentence 4 of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this matter is remanded for further administrative action consistent with this Opinion.

         PROCEEDINGS

         On August 20, 2015, Plaintiff filed a Complaint seeking review of the denial of her application for Disability Insurance Benefits. (Docket Entry No. 1). The parties have consented to proceed before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge. (Docket Entry Nos. 8, 10). On December 28, 2015, Defendant filed an Answer along with the Administrative Record (“AR”). (Docket Entry Nos. 13-14). The parties filed a Joint Position Statement (“Joint Stip.”) on March 28, 2016, setting forth their respective positions regarding Plaintiff’s claims. (Docket Entry No. 17).

         The Court has taken this matter under submission without oral argument. See C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-15; “Order Re: Procedures In Social Security Case, ” filed August 25, 2015 (Docket Entry No. 7).

         BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

         Plaintiff, formerly employed as a laboratory technician for a mechanical assembly business (see AR 28, 169), filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits on March 20, 2012, alleging a disability since June 16, 2011. (See AR 151-54). On November 25, 2013, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), Mark Greenberg, heard testimony from Plaintiff and vocational expert Luis Mas. (See AR 27-51). On February 20, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff’s application. (See AR 11-21). After determining that Plaintiff had severe impairments -- ”rheumatoid arthritis; obesity; and musculoligamentous strain” (AR 13)[1] --, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”)[2] to perform light work[3] with the limitations of no more than frequent postural activities and no more than frequent reaching, fine manipulation and gross manipulation. (AR 15-19). The ALJ then determined that Plaintiff was unable to perform any past relevant work (AR 19), but that jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform, and therefore found that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (AR 20-21).

         Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ’s decision. (AR 5). The request was denied on June 22, 2015. (AR 1-3). The ALJ’s decision then became the final decision of the Commissioner, allowing this Court to review the decision. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c).

         PLAINTIFF’S CONTENTIONS

         Plaintiff alleges that the ALJ erred in failing to properly consider: (1) the opinions of Plaintiff’s treating physicians and one consultative examiner; (2) Plaintiff’s subjective complaints and assess her credibility; and (3) the vocational expert’s testimony. (See Joint Stip. at 3-11, 18-22, 25-28).

         DISCUSSION

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

         A. The ALJ Did Not Properly Assess Plaintiff’s Credibility

         Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ failed to provide legitimate reasons for finding Plaintiff not credible. (See Joint Stip. at 18-22). Defendant asserts that the ALJ properly found Plaintiff not fully credible. (See Joint Stip. at 22-24).

         Plaintiff made the following statements in a “Function Report -Adult” dated May 25, 2012 (see AR 182-89):

She lives in a house with family. Her day consists of taking care of her personal care, dressing, eating, taking pills, taking children to school, coming home, cleaning her house, maybe doing laundry, picking up children at school, fixing dinner, cleaning the kitchen, watching television, and getting ready for bed. She takes care of her husband (feeds) and her children (feeds and takes to school). She takes care of a dog (feeds and limited walks), with the help of her children. As a result of her condition, she no longer walks far, goes outdoors as much, or makes different kinds of meals. Her sleep is affected because of her condition (she sometimes feels too much pain). She has no problem bathing, caring for her hair, shaving, self-feeding and using the toilet. She needs reminders to take a shower, but does not need reminders to take medicine. She prepares some breakfasts and dinners daily (meals take her more than 2 hours, and ...

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