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Orenstein v. Berryhill

United States District Court, C.D. California

June 1, 2017

DAVID JOEL ORENSTEIN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REVERSING DECISION OF THE COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY

          JOHN E. MCDERMOTT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         PROCEEDINGS

         On March 22, 2016, David Joel Orenstein ("Plaintiff or "Claimant") filed a complaint seeking review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The Commissioner filed an Answer on July 13, 2016. On February 28, 2017, the parties filed a Joint Stipulation ("JS"). The matter is now ready for decision.

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties consented to proceed before this Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the pleadings, transcripts, and administrative record ("AR"), the Court concludes that the Commissioner's decision must be reversed and this case remanded for further proceedings in accordance with this Memorandum Opinion and Order and with law.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a 54-year-old male who applied for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits on October 3, 2012, alleging disability beginning November 1, 2010.[1] (AR 32.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 1, 2010. (AR33, 41.)

         Plaintiff filed a previous application that was finally denied in July 2008 (AR 32), and the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") found no material change in status from the alleged onset date through the present. (AR 33.) Plaintiff filed a timely request for hearing, which was held before ALJ Evelyn M. Gunn on January 24, 2014, in West Los Angeles, California. (AR 32.) Plaintiff appeared and testified at the hearing and was represented by counsel. (AR 32.) Susan Bendavid Klaparda also testified on the Claimant's behalf. (AR 32.) Medical expert ("ME") Lynne Jahnke, M.D., testified (by telephone) and vocational expert ("VE") Gregory Jones also testified at the hearing. (AR 32.)

         The ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on March 25, 2014. (AR 32-42.) The Appeals Council denied review on January 27, 2016. (AR 1-3.)

         DISPUTED ISSUES

         As reflected in the Joint Stipulation, Plaintiff raises the following disputed issues as grounds for reversal and remand:

         1. Whether the Appeals Council erred by failing to review and incorporate evidence submitted on appeal.

         2. Whether the ALJ erred in evaluation of the opinions of the examining physicians.

         3. Whether the ALJ erred in determining Plaintiff's credibility.

         4. Whether the ALJ erred in the formulation of the RFC.

         5. Whether the ALJ erred in the evaluation of lay witness ...


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