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Ricardo v. Berryhill

United States District Court, C.D. California

June 20, 2017

TRAVIS RICARDO, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1] Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER OF REMAND

          ALKA SAGAR UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Pursuant to Sentence 4 of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this matter is remanded for further administrative action consistent with this Opinion.

         PROCEEDINGS

         On July 29, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Complaint seeking review of the denial of her application for Supplemental Security Incom. (Docket Entry No. 1). The parties have consented to proceed before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge. (Docket Entry Nos. 17, 20). On January 3, 2017, Defendant filed an Answer along with the Administrative Record (“AR”). (Docket Entry Nos. 17, 20). The parties filed a Joint Stipulation (“Joint Stip.”) on May 2, 2017, setting forth their respective positions regarding Plaintiff's claims. (Docket Entry No. 26).

         The Court has taken this matter under submission without oral argument. See C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-15; “Order Re: Procedures In Social Security Appeal, ” filed August 19, 2016 (Docket Entry No. 15).

         BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

         On October 17, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Security Income, alleging a disability since July 27, 2012. (See AR 130-38). On September 9, 2014, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), John Kays, heard testimony from Plaintiff and vocational expert Ronald Hatakeyama. (See AR 32-46). On October 24, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff's application. (See AR 20-27). After determining that Plaintiff had a severe impairment -- bursitis of the bilateral hips status post intramedullary rodding of bilateral femur fractures (AR 22)[2] -- but did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the Listed Impairments (AR 22), the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”)[3] to perform light work[4] with the following limitations: standing or walking for no more than 4 hours out of an 8-hour workday; sitting for no more than 6 hours out of an 8-hour workday; no jobs requiring work around unprotected heights or on ladders, ropes and scaffolds; and limited to jobs requiring only the performance of simple, routine, repetitive tasks. (AR 22-25). The ALJ then determined that Plaintiff did not have any past relevant work (AR 25), but that jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform, and therefore found that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (AR 25-27).

         Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's decision. (AR 14-16, 220-21). The request was denied on June 9, 2016. (AR 1-5). The ALJ's decision then became the final decision of the Commissioner, allowing this Court to review the decision. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c).

         PLAINTIFF'S CONTENTIONS

         Plaintiff alleges that the ALJ erred in failing to: (1) evaluate the opinion of Plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Huang; and (2) properly reject Plaintiff's testimony regarding his limitations. (See Joint Stip. at 3-5, 15-20, 29-30).

         DISCUSSION

         After consideration of the record as a whole, the Court finds that Plaintiff's second claim of error warrants a remand for further consideration. Since the Court is remanding the matter based on Plaintiff's second claim of error, the Court will not address Plaintiff's first claim of error.

         A. The ALJ Did Not Properly Assess Plaintiff's Credibility

         Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ failed to properly find that Plaintiff's testimony about his pain symptoms and functional limitations was not fully credible. (See Joint Stip. at 16-20, 29-30). Defendant asserts that the ALJ properly evaluated Plaintiff's subjective ...


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