United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER REVERSING AGENCY'S DENIAL OF BENEFITS AND
Emily Suzzan Williams (“Plaintiff”) seeks
judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying her
application for supplemental security income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security
Act. The matter is currently before the Court on the
parties' briefs, which were submitted, without oral
argument, to Magistrate Judge Barbara A.
considered the parties' briefs, along with the entire
record in this case, the Court finds that the decision of the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) is not supported
by substantial evidence in the record and is not based upon
proper legal standards. Accordingly, the Court recommends the
Commissioner's determination be REVERSED AND REMANDED for
AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS
filed her application for supplemental security income on
November 30, 2011. AR 171-78. Plaintiff alleged that she became
disabled on February 8, 2008. AR 171. Plaintiff's
application was denied initially and on reconsideration. AR
112-15, 117-21. Subsequently, Plaintiff requested a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). ALJ
Serena Hong held a hearing on December 11, 2013, and issued
an order denying benefits on February 28, 2014. AR 13-24,
29-55. Plaintiff sought review of the ALJ's decision,
which the Appeals Council denied, making the ALJ's
decision the Commissioner's final decision. AR 5-7, 12.
Plaintiff was granted an extension of time to file an action
seeking court review. AR 1. Plaintiff filed the instant court
action on November 24, 2015. (Doc. 1).
held a hearing on December 11, 2013, in Fresno, California.
AR 29-55. Plaintiff appeared and was represented by attorney
Dennis Bromberg. Plaintiff's mother Lisa Claire Williams
and impartial vocational expert Judith Najarian also
appeared. AR 31, 48.
response to questions from the ALJ, Plaintiff testified that
she was born in August 1992, and lived with her parents in an
apartment complex, along with her parents' roommate and
her 7-and-a-half-month old son. She does not have any source
of income and does not receive any benefits. She does not
have a driver's license because of her seizure disorder.
Plaintiff also testified that the highest level of education
she completed was the eleventh grade. She does not have a GED
or any special vocational training. She has never tried to
work. AR 33-34.
asked what prevented her from working, Plaintiff testified
that she has a seizure disorder. She has applied for jobs,
but been turned down because of her education or the risk of
seizure on the job. She also has a learning
disability-dyslexia-and had special education classes in
eighth grade and in high school. AR 34-35.
asked about treatment, Plaintiff testified that she sees her
neurologist every six months. She takes Keppra, and has not
had a seizure since February of 2012. It was a grand mal
seizure. She also has petit mal seizures, but could not
recall the last time she had one. She does not have any side
effects from her medication, and takes it as prescribed. AR
asked about a typical day, Plaintiff testified that she will
take care of her son until he takes a nap. She will do
laundry and vacuum. When her son wakes up, she takes care of
him and plays with him. She does not have problems taking
care of her son, but she has help all the time. AR 36-37.
Plaintiff confirmed that before she had her own child, she
used to help with her sister's kids, and had some pet
rats. She also uses a computer for Facebook and for learning
about her disability, and she likes to sew. AR 38-39.
response to questions from her attorney, Plaintiff testified
that she did not remember going to the hospital on August 27,
2013, with a seizure. Plaintiff affirmed that she had
problems with depression in the past, and was physically and
sexually abused by her father as a child. She also witnessed
her father abuse her little brother. Plaintiff last took
medications for depression when she was 15 or 16. She stopped
taking those medications because her neurologist told her she
did not need them, and Prozac and Abilify should not be mixed
with her seizure medication. AR 39-41.
asked about her seizures, Plaintiff testified that she can
sometimes tell when they are coming. During grand mal
seizures, she is usually unconscious. When she awakes, she is
usually confused and it can take two to six hours to feel
normal. After petit mal seizures, it will take her two to
four hours to get back to normal. During petit mal seizures,
she has been told that she stares and will sometimes go
unconscious. While pregnant, she was switched to a new
seizure medication, which was Keppra, and she has remained on
it. AR 41-43.
reported that she will have nightmares every three to six
months about her abuse. Her appetite is fairly good and she
has a lot of energy, but it is very hard for her to focus
because she gets distracted and gazes into space. She cannot
watch an hour long television show. AR 43-44.
asked about indications in her record about hurting herself,
Plaintiff testified that she was a cutter, and last cut
herself when she was 16-and-a-half. She also attempted
suicide when she was 15-and-a-half, overdosing on her
medications. She felt sick and sad about taking a kitchen
knife to her ex-boyfriend's throat. She no longer has
thoughts of suicide. AR 44-45.
asked about activities, Plaintiff testified that she will go
out with friends if she can find a babysitter. At home, she
will vacuum, take out her ...