United States District Court, C.D. California
CHANAH R. HAMILTON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security,  Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
HONORABLE KENLY KIYA KATO United States Magistrate Judge.
Chanah R. Hamilton (“Plaintiff”) seeks review of
the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“Commissioner” or
“Agency”) denying her application for Title II
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Title
XVI Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). For the
reasons stated below, the Commissioner's decision is
REVERSED and this action is REMANDED for further proceedings
consistent with this Order.
November 29, 2011, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB and
SSI, alleging a disability onset date of November 29, 2010.
Administrative Record (“AR”) at 263-72.
Plaintiff's application was denied initially on May 16,
2012, and upon reconsideration on January 3, 2013.
Id at 125-26, 157-58. Plaintiff then requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). Id at 182. On October 1, 2014,
Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified at a hearing
before the assigned ALJ. Id at 34-91. A vocational
expert (“VE”) also testified at the hearing.
Id at 71-87. On January 13, 2016, the ALJ issued a
decision denying Plaintiff's applications for DIB and
SSI. Id at 14-28.
March 6, 2015, Plaintiff filed a request to the Agency's
Appeals Council to review the ALJ's decision.
Id. at 11. On June 7, 2016, the Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review. Id at
August 4, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant action. ECF
Docket No. (“Dkt.”) 1, Compl. This matter is
before the Court on the parties' Joint Stipulation
(“JS”), filed on May 9, 2017. Dkt. 21, JS.
was born on April 3, 1969, and her alleged disability onset
date is November 29, 2010. AR at 37, 40, 263. She was
forty-one years old on the alleged disability onset date and
forty-five years old at the time of the hearing before the
ALJ. Id at 37, 40, 263. Plaintiff completed four
years of college and she has work experience as a home health
aide, clerk, area supervisor, and computer systems manager.
Id at 73, 75. Plaintiff alleges disability based on
depression, anxiety, agoraphobia, hypokalemia, and a history
of alcoholism in remission. Id at 39.
FOR EVALUATING DISABILITY
qualify for DIB and SSI, a claimant must demonstrate a
medically determinable physical or mental impairment that
prevents her from engaging in substantial gainful activity,
and that is expected to result in death or to last for a
continuous period of at least twelve months. Reddick v.
Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 721 (9th Cir. 1998). The
impairment must render the claimant incapable of performing
the work she previously performed and incapable of performing
any other substantial gainful employment that exists in the
national economy. Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094,
1098 (9th Cir. 1999).
decide if a claimant is disabled, and therefore entitled to
benefits, an ALJ conducts a five-step inquiry. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920. The steps are:
1. Is the claimant presently engaged in substantial gainful
activity? If so, the claimant is found not disabled. If not,
proceed to step two.
2. Is the claimant's impairment severe? If not, the
claimant is found not disabled. If so, proceed to step three.
3. Does the claimant's impairment meet or equal one of
the specific impairments described in 20 C.F.R. Part 404,
Subpart P, Appendix 1? If so, the claimant is found disabled.
If not, proceed to step four.
4. Is the claimant capable of performing work she has done in
the past? If so, the claimant is found not disabled. If not,
proceed to step five.
5. Is the claimant able to do any other work? If not, the
claimant is found disabled. If so, the claimant is found not
See Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098-99; see also
Bustamante v. Massanari, 262 F.3d 949, 953-54 (9th Cir.
2001); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b)-(g)(1),
claimant has the burden of proof at steps one through four,
and the Commissioner has the burden of proof at step five.
Bustamante, 262 F.3d at 953-54. Additionally, the
ALJ has an affirmative duty to assist the claimant in
developing the record at every step of the inquiry.
Id at 954. If, at step four, the claimant meets her
burden of establishing an inability to perform past work, the
Commissioner must show that the claimant can perform some
other work that exists in “significant numbers”
in the national economy, taking into account the
claimant's residual functional capacity