United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
SUZANNE H. SEGAL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Xavier Fernandez ("Plaintiff") seeks review of the
final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (the "Commissioner" or the
"Agency") denying his application for social
security benefits. The parties consented, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(c), to the jurisdiction of the undersigned
United States Magistrate Judge. For the reasons stated below,
the decision of the Commissioner is REVERSED and this case is
REMANDED for further administrative proceedings consistent
with this decision.
FIVE-STEP SEQUENTIAL EVALUATION PROCESS
qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must demonstrate
a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that
prevents him 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) (citing 42
U.S.C. § 423(d) (1) (A)) . The impairment must render
the claimant incapable of performing the work he 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) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A)).
decide if a claimant is 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 his past work? If
so, the claimant is found not disabled. If not, proceed to
(5) Is the claimant able to do any other work? If not, the
claimant is found disabled. If so, the claimant is found not
Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098-99; see also
Bustamante v. Massanari, 262 F.3d 949, 953-54 (9th Cir.
2001) (citations omitted); 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(b)-(g)(1) & 416.920(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 his
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 ("RFC"), age,
education, and work experience. Tackett, 180 F.3d at
1098, 1100; Reddick, 157 F.3d at 721; 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(g)(1), 416.920(g)(1). The Commissioner
may do so by the testimony of a vocational expert or by
reference to the Medical-Vocational Guidelines appearing in
20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2 (commonly known as
"the Grids"). Osenbrock v. Apfel, 240 F.3d
1157, 1162 (9th Cir. 2001) . When a claimant has both