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Whitehouse v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 30, 2017

JAMES SCOTT WHITEHOUSE, 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 application for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act. The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is granted, the Commissioner's motion is denied, and the matter is remanded for further proceedings.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed an application for a period of disability and DIB, alleging that he had been disabled since December 29, 2011. Administrative Record (“AR”) 164-170. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. at 113-118, 120-125. On March 24, 2014, a hearing was held before administrative law judge (“ALJ”) Kyle E. Andeer. Id. at 36- 71. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearing, at which he and a vocational expert testified. Id.

         On April 25, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision finding that plaintiff was not disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Act.[1] Id. at 18-31. The ALJ made the following specific findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2016.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 29, 2011, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following medically severe impairments: status post cervical and lumbar trauma; obesity; and depression/anxiety impairments secondary to pain (20 CFR 404.1520(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 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that he claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except with opportunity to alternate between sitting and standing during the workday at will provided they [sic] are not off task for more than ten percent of the workday; limited to simple, routine tasks in a low stress work environment, i.e., only occasional decision making or judgment required and only occasional changes in the work setting.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born [in] 1975 and was 36 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant number in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 404.1569 and 404.1569(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from December 29, 2011, through the date of ...

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