United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND
Honorable Jacqueline Chooljian UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
August 29, 2016, Diana Marie Lopez (“plaintiff”)
filed a Complaint seeking review of the Commissioner of
Social Security's denial of plaintiff's application
for benefits. The parties have consented to proceed before
the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge.
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;
September 1, 2016 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
March 9, 2012, plaintiff filed applications for Supplemental
Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits alleging
disability beginning on March 1, 2010 (“alleged onset
date”), due to depression. (Administrative Record
(“AR”) 20, 185, 192, 238). The ALJ examined the
medical record and heard testimony from plaintiff (who was
represented by counsel) and a vocational expert on August 1,
2014. (AR 37-59).
September 22, 2014, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not
disabled through the date of the decision. (AR 20-31).
Specifically, the ALJ found that plaintiff had engaged in
substantial gainful activity during the period from January
2012 through December 2012. (AR 22). In addition, for the
periods during which plaintiff did not engage in substantial
gainful activity (i.e., from the alleged onset date
through December 31, 2011, and from January 1, 2013 through
the date of the decision), the ALJ found: (1) plaintiff
suffered from the following severe impairments: bipolar
disorder, psychotic disorder, dysthymic disorder, and mixed
personality disorder with borderline and antisocial features
(AR 23); (2) plaintiff's impairments, considered singly
or in combination, did not meet or medically equal a listed
impairment (AR 23-24); (3) plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all
exertional levels with additional nonexertional
limitations (AR 24); (4) plaintiff was unable to
perform any past relevant work (AR 29); (5) there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that plaintiff could perform, specifically hospital cleaner,
laundry worker, and hand packager (AR 29-30); and (6)
plaintiff's statements regarding the intensity,
persistence, and limiting effects of subjective symptoms were
not entirely credible (AR 25).
24, 2016, the 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 not,
proceed to step two. ///
(2) Is the claimant's alleged impairment sufficiently
severe to limit the claimant's ability to work? If not,
the claimant is not ...