United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. STANDISH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Anthony Keith Forkush (“Plaintiff”) filed a
complaint seeking review of Defendant Commissioner of Social
Security's (“Commissioner”) denial of his
application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”). The parties filed consents to proceed
before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge [Dkts.
10, 12] and briefs addressing disputed issues in the case
[Dkt. 23 (“Pltf.'s Br.”); Dkt. 24
(“Def.'s Br.”); Dkt. 25 (Pltf.'s Reply)].
The Court has taken the parties' briefing under
submission without oral argument. For the reasons discussed
below, the Court finds that this matter should be remanded
for further proceedings.
ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION UNDER REVIEW
February 15, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB,
alleging that he became disabled as of April 10, 2012. [Dkt.
19, Administrative Record (“AR”) 140, 315-316.]
The Commissioner denied his initial claim for benefits and
then denied his claim upon reconsideration. [AR 205-208;
212-216.] On September 8, 2014, a hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Sally Reason.
[AR 87-139.] On October 8, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision
denying Plaintiff's request for benefits. [AR 178-198.]
Plaintiff requested review from the Appeals Council, and in
January 2015, the Appeals Council remanded the claim, finding
that the ALJ did not adequately evaluate all opinion evidence
and did not address the inconsistencies in the medical
expert's testimony. [AR 199-204.]
on June 24, 2015, a second hearing was held before the ALJ.
[AR 45-86.] On September 14, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision
again denying Plaintiff's request for benefits. [AR
15-44.] Plaintiff requested review from the Appeals Council
on October 7, 2015, but the Appeals Council denied his
request for review on March 16, 2016. [AR 1-6.]
the five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff was not disabled. See 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(b)-(g)(1). At step one, the ALJ concluded
that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since April 10, 2012, the alleged onset date. [AR
20.] At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffered from
the following severe impairments: obesity, degenerative disc
disease, generalized anxiety disorder, depression,
intermittent explosive disorder, and polysubstance abuse (in
remission). [Id. (citing 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(c).] Next, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not
have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets
or medically equals the severity of one of the listed
impairments. [AR 438 (citing 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525, and
found that Plaintiff had the following residual functional
[L]ight work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except he could
occasionally balance, bend, climb, crawl, crouch, kneel, and
stop but could not work ladders, heights, or moving
machinery. He would need to avoid public contact entirely and
could have only minimal or limited interaction of a
superficial nature with coworkers or supervisors. The
claimant would be able to perform simple tasks.
[AR 26.] Applying this RFC, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff was unable to perform his past relevant work, but
determined that based on his age (51 years old), high school
education, and ability to communicate in English, he could
perform representative occupations such as cleaner,
housekeeping (DOT 323.687-014) and mail clerk (DOT
209.687-026) and, thus, is not disabled. [AR 36-38.]
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court reviews the
Commissioner's decision to determine if: (1) the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence; and (2) the Commissioner used correct legal
standards. See Carmickle v. Comm'r Soc. Sec.
Admin., 533 F.3d 1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai
v. Astrue, 499 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007).
Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971) (internal citation and quotations omitted);
see also Hoopai, 499 F.3d at 1074.
ALJ's Step Two ...