United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. STANDISH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
April 26, 2017, Plaintiff Jessica Anderson
(“Plaintiff”) filed a Complaint seeking review of
a decision by Defendant, the Acting Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner”), denying her
application for Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). On August 7, 2017, the Commissioner
filed an Answer to the Complaint and lodged the
Administrative Record (“AR”). On September 8,
2017, the Commissioner lodged a supplement to the AR. The
parties filed consents to proceed before the undersigned
United States Magistrate Judge [Dkts. 11 & 23] and briefs
addressing disputed issues in the case [Dkt. 18 (“Pl.
Br.”), Dkt. 21 (“Def. Br.”), & Dkt. 22
(“Pl. Rep.”)]. The Court has taken the
parties' briefing under submission without oral argument.
For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that this matter
should be remanded for additional proceedings.
ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION UNDER REVIEW
September 10, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI,
alleging disability since May 1, 2003, due to depression,
anxiety, personality disorder, learning disorder, history of
seizures, low back pain with radiculopathy, and obesity. [AR
22, 104-11, 130, 174.] Plaintiff's application was denied
initially and on reconsideration. [AR 74-77, 83-87.] Hearings
were held before Administrative Law Judge Mary L. Everstine
(“the ALJ”) on October 28, 2014 and May 19, 2015.
[AR 42-48, 670-86.]
2, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision applying the sequential
evaluation process to find Plaintiff not disabled. [AR
22-34]; see 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(b)-(g)(1). At
step one, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since the date of her
application, September 10, 2012. [AR 24.] At step two, the
ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the following severe
impairments: morbid obesity, seizure disorder well controlled
on medication, lumbar degenerative disc disease without
stenosis, borderline intellectual functioning, and a history
of methamphetamine dependence in remission. [Id.] At
step three, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff's
conditions did not meet or equal any of the impairments
listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. [AR 27.]
Next, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform medium
work (20 C.F.R. § 416.967(c)), with the following
[Plaintiff] is limited to occasional climbing of ropes,
ladders, and scaffolds and occasional balancing. [Plaintiff]
is restricted to frequent climbing of stairs or ramps and
frequent stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling.
[Plaintiff] cannot work around unprotected heights.
[Plaintiff] cannot operate hazardous or moving machinery.
[Plaintiff] is limited to simple, routine tasks.
[AR 28.] At step four, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff does
not have any past relevant work. [AR 32.] At step five, the
ALJ determined that Plaintiff could perform jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy. [AR 33.]
Appeals Council denied review of the ALJ's decision on
October 14, 2016. [AR 7-9.] This action followed.
now raises the following issues challenging the ALJ's
findings and determination of non-disability:
1. The ALJ improperly assessed and rejected the opinion of
the examining psychologist.
2. The ALJ's RFC and step five finding contain legal
errors and are not supported by substantial evidence.
3. The ALJ improperly assessed and rejected the third party