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Broom v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 21, 2017

ROBERT BROOM, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          EDMUND F. BRENNAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying his applications for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. The parties' cross-motions for summary judgment are pending. Also pending is the court's September 1, 2016 order to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed for the Commissioner's failure to timely file her motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 19. For the reasons discussed below, the order to show cause is discharged, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is granted, the Commissioner's motion is denied, and the matter is remanded for further proceedings.

         I. ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE

         The court approved the parties' stipulation to extend the date for the Commissioner to file her cross-motion for summary judgment and ordered the Commissioner to file her motion by August 15, 2016. ECF No. 18. The Commissioner failed to do so and was ordered to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed for violation of that order. ECF No. 19. In response, counsel for the Commissioner explains that the failure to timely file the motion was due to a calendaring error. ECF No. 20. Counsel also has taken responsibility for the error, apologized for the violation of the order, and assured the court that additional measures have been implemented to ensure compliance with court orders. Id.

         In light of those representations, the order to show cause is discharged and no sanctions are imposed.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed applications for a period of disability, DIB, and SSI, alleging that he had been disabled since December 15, 2011. Administrative Record (“AR”) 176-189. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. at 113-118, 120-125. On December 11, 2013, a hearing was held before administrative law judge (“ALJ”) Dante M. Alegre. Id. at 28-64. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearing, at which he and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. Id.

         On May 22, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision finding that plaintiff was not disabled under sections 216(i), 223(d), and 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Act.[1] Id. at 15-23. The ALJ made the following specific findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through September 30, 2014.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 15, 2011, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pancreatitis (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
* * *
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
* * *
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) with the following limitations: lift and/or carry twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently; sit, stand, or walk for six hours each in an eight-hour day; but should avoid concentrated exposure to fumes, dusts, gases, and odors.
* * *
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a recycle laborer, as actually performed, and warehouse supervisor, as described in the DOT. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
* * *
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from December 15, 2011, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f) and 416.920(f)).

Id. at 17-23.

         Plaintiff's request for Appeals Council review was denied on September 22, 2015, leaving the ALJ's decision as the final decision of the Commissioner. Id. at 1-6.

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         The Commissioner's decision that a claimant is not disabled will be upheld if the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence in the record and the proper legal standards were applied. Schneider v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 223 F.3d 968, 973 (9th Cir. 2000); Morgan v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., ...


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