United States District Court, C.D. California
DECISION AND ORDER
E. BIANCHINI, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
November of 2012, Plaintiff Mark Quintana applied for
Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security
income benefits under the Social Security Act. The
Commissioner of Social Security denied the
applications. Plaintiff, represented by the Law Offices
of Lawrence D. Rohlfing, Young Cho, Esq., of counsel,
commenced this action seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's denial of benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405 (g) and 1383 (c)(3).
parties consented to the jurisdiction of a United States
Magistrate Judge. (Docket No. 12, 13, 24). On January 5,
2018, this case was referred to the undersigned pursuant to
General Order 05-07. (Docket No. 23).
applied for benefits on November 7, 2012 and November 8,
2012, alleging disability beginning March 29, 2007. (T at
214-15, 218-26). The applications were denied initially and
on reconsideration. Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). On May 12,
2015, a hearing was held before ALJ Joan Ho. (T at 36).
Plaintiff appeared with his attorney and
testified. (T at 43-62, 68-69, 70-71, 76-77). The ALJ
also received testimony from Joseph Henry Torres, a
vocational expert (T at 63-68, 69-70, 72-75, 77-78).
17, 2015, the ALJ issued a written decision denying the
application for benefits. (T at 16-35). The ALJ's
decision became the Commissioner's final decision on
November 10, 2016, when the Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. (T at 1-6).
January 7, 2017, Plaintiff, acting by and through his
counsel, filed this action seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's decision. (Docket No. 1). The Commissioner
interposed an Answer on June 7, 2017. (Docket No. 16). The
parties filed a Joint Stipulation on November 2, 2017.
(Docket No. 22).
reviewing the pleadings, Joint Stipulation, and
administrative record, this Court finds that the
Commissioner's decision should be reversed and this case
be remanded for further proceedings.
Sequential Evaluation Process
Social Security Act (“the Act”) defines
disability as the “inability to engage in any
substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be
expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
twelve months.” 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A),
1382c(a)(3)(A). The Act also provides that a claimant shall
be determined to be under a disability only if any
impairments are of such severity that he or she is not only
unable to do previous work but cannot, considering his or her
age, education and work experiences, engage in any other
substantial work which exists in the national economy. 42
U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(2)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(B). Thus, the
definition of disability consists of both medical and
vocational components. Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d
1152, 1156 (9th Cir. 2001).
Commissioner has established a five-step sequential
evaluation process for determining whether a person is
disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. Step one
determines if the person is engaged in substantial gainful
activities. If so, benefits are denied. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404. 1520(a)(4)(i), 416.920(a)(4)(i). If not,
the decision maker proceeds to step two, which determines
whether the claimant has a medically severe impairment or
combination of impairments. 20 C.F.R. §§
claimant does not have a severe impairment or combination of
impairments, the disability claim is denied. If the
impairment is severe, the evaluation proceeds to the third
step, which compares the claimant's impairment(s) with a
number of listed impairments acknowledged by the Commissioner
to be so severe as to preclude substantial gainful activity.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iii),
416.920(a)(4)(iii); 20 C.F.R. § 404 Subpt. P App. 1. If
the impairment meets or equals one of the listed impairments,
the claimant is conclusively presumed to be disabled. If the
impairment is not one conclusively presumed to be disabling,
the evaluation proceeds to the fourth step, which determines
whether the impairment prevents the claimant from performing
work which was performed in the past. If the claimant is able
to perform previous work, he or she is deemed not disabled.
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv), 416.920(a)(4)(iv).
At this step, the claimant's residual functional capacity
(RFC) is considered. If the claimant cannot perform past
relevant work, the fifth and final step in the ...