United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. STANDISH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Ana Lopez (“Plaintiff”) filed a complaint seeking
review of the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
denying her applications for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). The parties filed consents to proceed
before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge [Dkts.
10 and 11] and briefs addressing disputed issues in the case
[Dkt. 17 (“Pltf.'s Br.”), Dkt. 18
(“Def.'s. Br.”), and Dkt. 19
(“Pltf.'s Reply)]. The Court has taken the
parties' briefing under submission without oral argument.
For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that this
matter should be remanded for further proceedings.
ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION UNDER REVIEW
September 2013, Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI,
alleging disability as of August 15, 2013. [Dkt. 16,
Administrative Record (“AR”) 186, 188.]
Plaintiff's applications were denied at the initial level
of review and on reconsideration. [AR 124, Def's Br. at
2] On May 12, 2015, a hearing was held before Administrative
Law Judge James P. Nguyen (“the ALJ”). [AR 24.]
On March 4, 2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. [AR
the five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff was not disabled. See 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(b)-(g)(1), 416.920(b)-(g)(1). At step
one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date.
[AR 27.] At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffered
from the severe impairments of degenerative disc disease of
the cervical and thoracic spine; strain of the cervical and
thoracic spine, left knee strain; dyslipidemia; left shoulder
tendinitis; a history of carpal tunnel syndrome; and a
history of carcinoma of the thyroid gland, status post
thyroidectomy. [Id.] At step three, the ALJ
determined that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of one of the impairments listed in Appendix I of
the Regulations, (“the Listings”). [AR 28];
see 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1. Next, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform light work (20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1567(b), 416.967(b)) with the following
additional nonexertional limitations:
[Plaintiff is] able to climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds
occasionally; otherwise, able to perform frequent climbing
for ramps and stairs, as well as frequent balancing,
stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling; able to perform
occasional overhead reaching; and able to perform frequent
handling and fingering with the upper extremities.
[AR 28.] Applying this RFC, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was
capable of performing her past relevant work as an electronic
assembler, and was, thus, not disabled. [AR 30-31.]
Appeals Council denied review of the ALJ's decision on
January 25, 2017. [AR 1-4.] This action followed.
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the Court reviews the
Commissioner's decision to determine if: (1) the
Commissioner's findings are supported by substantial
evidence; and (2) the Commissioner used correct legal
standards. Carmickle v. Comm'r, Soc. Sec.
Admin., 533 F.3d 1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai
v. Astrue, 499 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007).
Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971) (internal citation and quotations omitted);
see also Hoopai, 499 F.3d at 1074.
contends that the ALJ erred by: (1) finding that Plaintiff
did not meet a listing at step three, and (2) improperly
discrediting Plaintiff's testimony. [Pltf.'s Br. at
1.] As set forth below, the Court agrees with Plaintiff, in
part, and remands the matter for further proceedings. Because
the Court finds Plaintiff's second argument regarding her
credibility compelling, this memorandum does not deal with
Plaintiff's contention that the ALJ improperly found that
none of her impairments met a listing. However, the ALJ
should consider this issue on remand.
ALJ Failed to Properly Consider Plaintiff's ...