United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HONORABLE KENLY KIYA KATO United States Magistrate Judge
Mickella Martin (“Plaintiff”) seeks review of the
final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“Commissioner” or
“Agency”) denying her application for 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 consistent with this Order.
August 4, 2011, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI,
alleging a disability onset date of June 18, 2011.
Administrative Record (“AR”) at 137-43.
Plaintiff's application was denied initially on November
16, 2011, and upon reconsideration on March 14, 2013.
Id. at 66-79, 80-96, 97-100, 103-07. On April 5,
2013, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”). Id. at 110. On April
22, 2014, Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a
hearing before the assigned ALJ. Id. at 29-50. A
vocational expert (“VE”) also testified at the
hearing. Id. at 47-49. On June 16, 2014, the ALJ
issued a decision denying Plaintiff's application for
SSI. Id. at 15-28.
August 7, 2014, Plaintiff filed a request to the Agency's
Appeals Council to review the ALJ's decision.
Id. at 10-12. On January 12, 2016, the Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review.
Id. at 1-6.
February 26, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant action. ECF
Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1, Compl. This matter is
before the Court on the Parties' Joint Stipulation
(“JS”), filed January 9, 2017. Dkt. 19, JS.
was born on May 27, 1975, and her alleged disability onset
date is June 18, 2011. AR at 137. She was thirty-six years
old on the alleged disability onset date and thirty-eight
years old at the time of the hearing before the ALJ.
Id. at 85, 204. Plaintiff has a high school
education and no documented work experience. Id. at
226. Plaintiff alleges disability based on mental illness,
morbid obesity, depression, lower back pain, knee pain, ankle
pain, and arthritis in hands and knees. Id. at 66,
STANDARD FOR EVALUATING DISABILITY
qualify for SSI, a claimant must demonstrate a medically
determinable physical or mental impairment that prevents her
from engaging in substantial gainful activity, and that 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 the work she 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.
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. If not,
proceed to step two.
2. Is the claimant's impairment severe? If not, the
claimant is found not disabled. If so, proceed to step three.
3. Does the claimant's impairment meet or equal one of
the specific impairments described in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1? If so, the claimant is found disabled.
If not, proceed to step four.
4. Is the claimant capable of performing work she has done in
the past? If so, the claimant is found not disabled. If not,
proceed to step five.
5. Is the claimant able to do any other work? If not, the
claimant is found disabled. If so, the claimant is found not
See Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098-99; see also
Bustamante v. Massanari, 262 F.3d 949, 953-54 (9th Cir.
2001); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b)-(g)(1),
claimant has the burden of proof at steps one through four,
and the Commissioner has the burden of proof at step five.
Bustamante, 262 F.3d at 953-54. Additionally, the
ALJ has an affirmative duty to assist the claimant in
developing the record at every step of the inquiry.
Id. at 954. If, at step four, the claimant meets her
burden of establishing an inability to perform past work, the
Commissioner must show that the claimant can perform some
other work that exists in “significant numbers”
in the national economy, taking into account the
claimant's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”), age, education, and work experience.
Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098, 1100; Reddick,
157 F.3d at 721; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(g)(1),