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Norwood v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 28, 2017

STEVEN WAYNE NORWOOD, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER VACATING ALJ'S DECISION AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

          JOHN A. HOUSTON United States District Judge.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Steven Wayne Norwood (“Plaintiff”), through counsel, filed this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 405(g) of the Social Security Act (“the Act'), to obtain judicial review of a “final decision” of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Defendant”) denying Plaintiff's claim for Disability Insurance Benefits under the Act. (See Doc. No. 1). Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment and Defendant filed a cross-motion for summary judgment and opposition to Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. (See Docs. No. 14, 15). After a thorough review of the pleadings and exhibits filed by the parties along with the entire record submitted in this matter, and for the reasons set forth below, the ALJ's decision is REVERSED, and this case is REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, who was born on February 1, 1959, is currently 58 years of age. AR[1] at 93. Plaintiff has past relevant work experience as an electronics tester. AR at 60, 225. Plaintiff alleges that he has been disabled since January 1, 2005, and suffers from cervical and lumbar spine degenerative disc disease, left elbow neuropathy, right shoulder joint derangement, anxiety disorder, and alcohol abuse. AR at 55.

         On June 12, 2012, Plaintiff protectively filed a Title II application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits. AR at 53. On the same day, Plaintiff also filed a Title XVI application for supplemental security income. Id. Both applications allege a disability onset of January 1, 2005. Id.

         The Defendant initially denied Plaintiff's claims on December 15, 2012 and again on April 5, 2013. Id. On May 23, 2013 the Plaintiff filed a written request for a hearing in front of a United States Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). Id. On July 10, 2014, with his attorney present, the Plaintiff appeared and testified at the hearing. AR at 68. John P. Kilcher, a vocational expert, also appeared at the hearing. Id. The ALJ denied benefits in a written decision dated August 4, 2014. AR at 50, 61.

         Plaintiff filed a request for review of the hearing decision before the appeals council on October 6, 2014. AR at 49. On January 20, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. AR at 34-38.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed the instant complaint on March 24, 2015. (See Doc. No. 1). Defendant filed an answer on August 7, 2015. (See Doc. No. 11). On October 8, 2015, Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment seeking reversal or remand of the Defendant's administrative decision. (See Doc. No. 14). Defendant filed a cross-motion for summary judgment and opposition to Plaintiff's motion on November 6, 2015. (See Doc. No. 15).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standards

         A. Qualification for Disability Benefits

         To qualify for disability benefits under the Act, an applicant must show that: (1) she suffers from a medically determinable impairment that can be expected to result in death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months; and (2) the impairment renders the applicant incapable of performing the work that she previously performed or any other substantially gainful employment that exists in the national ...


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