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Castillo v. Berryhill

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 22, 2017

MARCELINO ZEPEDA CASTILLO, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHIL, [1]Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          SUZANNE H. SEGAL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I.

         INTRODUCTION

         Marcelino Zepeda Castillo (“Plaintiff”) brings this action seeking to overturn the decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the “Commissioner”) denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”). The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). For the reasons stated below, the decision of the Commissioner is REVERSED and REMANDED for further proceedings.

         II.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On January 9, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB claiming his disability began on December 22, 2010. (Administrative Record (“AR”) 222-23). Plaintiff's DIB application was denied both initially on May 31, 2013 and upon reconsideration on October 25, 2013. (AR 120-25, 127-32). Plaintiff then requested a hearing which was held before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Dana E. McDonald on January 23, 2015. (AR 74-88). ALJ McDonald held a second hearing on August 20, 2015. (AR 39-73). On September 22, 2015, ALJ McDonald issued an unfavorable decision, finding Plaintiff able to perform light work with some additional limitations. (AR 19-38). On October 29, 2015, Plaintiff requested review of the ALJ's decision before the Appeals Council. (AR 17-18). On December 12, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review and the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. (AR 1-7).

         IV.

         THE FIVE-STEP SEQUENTIAL EVALUATION PROCESS

         To qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must demonstrate a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that prevents him from engaging in substantial gainful activity[2]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)).

         To 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 a list of 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 step five.
(5) Is the claimant able to do any other work? If not, the claimant is found disabled. If so, the claimant is ...

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