United States District Court, C.D. California, Southern Division
MICHAEL E. ADAMS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security,  Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DOUGLAS F. McCORMICK United States Magistrate Judge
E. Adams (“Plaintiff”) appeals from the Social
Security Commissioner's final decision denying in part
his applications for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). The Court concludes that the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) failed to give
specific and legitimate reasons for discounting the treating
physician's opinion. The Commissioner's decision is
therefore reversed and this matter is remanded for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
filed applications for DIB and SSI on April 13 and 14, 2011,
respectively. Administrative Record (“AR”)
141-42, 400-03. Both applications alleged disability
beginning March 6, 2009. AR 1532. After his applications were
denied, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ. AR
179-80. An ALJ held a hearing on August 29, 2012, AR 68-102,
after which the ALJ issued a decision denying the claims, AR
143-58. Plaintiff sought review from the Appeals Council,
which vacated the ALJ's decision and remanded the case
back to the ALJ for further proceedings. AR 159-63.
held a second hearing on May 22, 2014, at which Plaintiff was
represented by counsel. AR 18-67. The ALJ heard testimony
from Arnold Ostrow, M.D., an impartial medical expert, as
well as a vocational expert (“VE”). Id.
issued a partially favorable decision on September 9, 2014.
AR 1527-42. The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had the severe
impairments of polyneuropathy, migraine, essential
hypertension, left rotator cuff syndrome, cervical discogenic
disease, thoracic and lumbosacral degenerative disease, and
atrial arrhythmia. AR 1535. The ALJ found that
notwithstanding those impairments, Plaintiff retained the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform
light work with the following additional limitations:
can lift and/or carry 10 pounds frequently and 20 pounds
occasionally; stand and/or walk 2 hours out of an 8-hour day
and sit 6 hours out of an 8-hour day with the ability to
stand and stretch every hour estimated to take 1 to 3 minutes
per hour; no overhead work with left upper extremity;
occasional foot pedals with the lower extremities
bilaterally; can occasionally climb stairs; no ladders,
ropes, or scaffolds; can occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch,
and crawl; no work at unprotected heights; no work around
moving or dangerous machinery; frequent fine and gross
manipulation bilaterally; and low stress job, defined as
having only occasional decision making duties and changes in
the work setting.
AR 1535. Based on the VE's testimony, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff could not perform his past relevant work as a
building maintenance repairer because the demands of that job
exceed his RFC. AR 1540.
turned 55 years old on February 27, 2014. See AR
140-41, 400. The ALJ concluded that, based on the VE's
testimony, Plaintiff was not disabled before his 55th
birthday because even considering his reduced ability to
stand and walk, he could perform an eroded number of cashier
II and electrical accessories assembler jobs. AR 1541-42. The
ALJ therefore found that before February 27, 2014, Plaintiff
was capable of making a successful adjustment to other work
that existed in the national economy. AR 1541.
Plaintiff was of advanced age as of February 27, 2014, the
ALJ applied Medical Vocational Rule 202.06 to determine that
Plaintiff was disabled as of February 27, 2014. AR 1543.
requested review of the unfavorable portion of the ALJ's
decision. AR 9-11. On February 3, 2016, the Appeals Council
denied review. AR 1-6. This action followed.