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King v. Berryhill

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 22, 2018

ROBIN C. KING, Plaintiff
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          GAIL J. STANDISH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff Robin C. King (“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. 7 and 14] and briefs addressing disputed issues in the case [Dkt. 17 (“Pl. Br.”), Dkt. 18 (“Def. Br.”), and Dkt. 19 (Pl. Rep.)]. 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 additional proceedings.

         II. ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION UNDER REVIEW

         In January 2013, Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI, alleging disability as of March 6, 2012. [Dkt. 16, Administrative Record (“AR”) 20, 279-94.] Plaintiff's applications were denied at the initial level of review and on reconsideration. [AR 20, 169-71, 180-85.] Hearings were held before Administrative Law Judge John W. Wojciechowski (“the ALJ”) on September 28, 2015, and February 1, 2016. [AR 42-87.] On March 23, 2016, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. [AR 20-32.]

         The ALJ applied the five-step sequential evaluation process to find Plaintiff 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 worked after her alleged disability onset date, but the work activity did not constitute disqualifying substantial gainful activity. [AR 22, 29.] At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffered from the severe impairments of post-concussive syndrome, status post traumatic brain injury, depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, seizure disorder, fibromyalgia, and cervical degenerative disc disease. [AR 23.] 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”). [Id.]; 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 the following:

occasionally lift and/or carry 20 pounds; frequently lift and/or carry 10 pounds; stand and/or walk for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; sit for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday; frequently climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crawl, and crouch; never use ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; avoid even moderate exposure to industrial workplace hazards; frequently handle and reach with the bilateral upper extremities; and limited to simple repetitive tasks, no public contact, and only occasional contact with coworkers and supervisors.

[AR 25.] At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was unable to perform her past relevant work. [AR 31.] At step five, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff could perform jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy, including representative occupations such as assembler and hand packager, based on Plaintiff's RFC, age (46 years old on alleged onset date), education, and work experience. [AR 31-32.]

         The Appeals Council denied review of the ALJ's decision on April 13, 2017. [AR 1-7.] This action followed.

         Plaintiff raises the following issues challenging the ALJ's findings and determination of non-disability:

1. The ALJ failed to adequately assess Plaintiff's testimony regarding her pain and limitations.
2. The ALJ failed to properly consider Plaintiff's processing speed.
3. The ALJ failed to properly consider the opinion of Plaintiff's psychiatrist. [Pl. Br. at 1-10; Pl. Rep. at 1-10.]

         Plaintiff requests reversal and remand for payment of benefits or, in the alternative, remand for further administrative ...


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