United States District Court, C.D. California, Western Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
DOUGLAS F. McCORMICK United States Magistrate Judge.
Gomez (“Plaintiff”) appeals from the Social
Security Commissioner's final decision denying her
application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”). For the reasons discussed below, the
Commissioner's decision is reversed and this case is
remanded for further proceedings.
filed an application for DIB on February 25, 2013.
Administrative Record (“AR”) 71, 138-39, 155-56.
After her application was denied, she requested a hearing
before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). AR
80-81. A hearing was held on May 5, 2014, at which Plaintiff,
who was represented by counsel, testified with the assistance
of an interpreter. AR 25, 38-62. The ALJ also called a
vocational expert (“VE”) to testify about
Plaintiff's past relevant work. AR 38-41, 57-61. In a
written decision issued on July 1, 2014, the ALJ denied
Plaintiff's claim for benefits. AR 19-37. In reaching his
decision, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the severe
impairments of right carpal tunnel syndrome status-post
surgical release, bilateral shoulder rotator cuff syndrome,
and cervical and lumbar strains. AR 27. The ALJ found that
despite those impairments, Plaintiff retained the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work
with several additional limitations. AR 28. Based on the
VE's testimony, the ALJ found that Plaintiff could
perform her past relevant work as a “seamstress (sewing
machine operator)” as it is generally performed. AR 33.
He therefore concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled. AR
requested review of the ALJ's decision. AR 16-17. On
March 7, 2016, the Appeals Council denied review. AR 1-9.
This action followed.
parties dispute whether the ALJ erred in determining that
Plaintiff was capable of performing her past relevant work.
See Joint Stipulation (“JS”) at 4.
hearing, Plaintiff testified that she has a sixth-grade
education, reads and writes in Spanish, and can read and
write in English “[a] little bit.” AR 43.
Plaintiff stopped working as a seamstress in August 2010 as
the result of arm and wrist injuries. AR 44-45.
presented the VE with a series of hypotheticals related to
Plaintiff's RFC. AR 58-59. The VE responded that a person
with Plaintiff's limitations could perform
Plaintiff's past relevant work, which he referred to as
either a seamstress or sewing-machine operator, Dictionary of
Occupational Titles (“DOT”) 787.682-046.
Id. But he did not specify whether such a person
could perform Plaintiff's past work as actually or
generally performed. See Id.
decision, the ALJ found that, “based on her written
reports and testimony, ” Plaintiff's past relevant
work was “actually performed . . . as sedentary to
medium work.” AR 33. Thus, Plaintiff's past work as
actually performed was precluded by her RFC, which limited
her to light work. See AR 28. But the ALJ relied on
the VE's testimony in concluding that Plaintiff was not
disabled because she could perform her past work as generally
In accordance with SSR 00-4p, the undersigned has determined
that the testimony provided by the vocational expert is
consistent with the information contained in the DOT.
[¶] Based on the testimony of the vocational expert, the
undersigned finds that [Plaintiff] is able to perform her