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Haave v. Saul

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 30, 2019

LAURA HAAVE, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, [1] Defendant.

          ORDER

          DEBORAH BARNES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This social security action was submitted to the court without oral argument for ruling on plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment.[2]Plaintiff argues that the ALJ's treatment of the medical opinion evidence constituted error. For the reasons explained below, plaintiff's motion is granted, the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) is reversed, and the matter is remanded for further proceedings.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On February 22, 2016, plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”) alleging disability beginning on January 1, 2014.[3] (Transcript (“Tr.”) at 23, 261-76.) Plaintiff's alleged impairments included COPD and depression. (Id. at 264.) Plaintiff's application was denied initially, (id. at 159-63), and upon reconsideration. (Id. at 171-77.)

         Thereafter, plaintiff requested a hearing which was held before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on November 9, 2017. (Id. at 42-87.) Plaintiff was represented by an attorney and testified at the administrative hearing. (Id. at 42-45.) In a decision issued on January 12, 2018, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled. (Id. at 35.) The ALJ entered the following findings:

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 1, 2017, the amended alleged onset date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), depression (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform less than light work as light work is defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b). She can lift, carry, push, and pull occasionally 20 pounds and frequently 10 pounds. She can sit for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. She can stand and walk for 6 hours of an 8-hour workday. She cannot climb ropes, ladders or scaffolds. She can occasionally crawl and stoop. She can perform frequent gross and fine manipulation. She is able to understand and carry out simple job instructions. She is able to occasionally understand and carry out detailed job instructions. She is capable of frequently adjusting to simple changes in the work place. She is able to make workplace judgments. She has no other limitations.
5. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born [in] 1967 and was an individual closely approaching advanced age, as of the amended onset date (20 CFR 416.963).
7. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the claimant does not have past relevant work (20 CFR 416.968).
9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 416.969 and 416.969(a)).
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since February 22, 2016, the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)).

(Id. at 26-35.)

         On March 14, 2018, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's January 12, 2018 decision.[4] (Id. at 1-3.) Plaintiff sought judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) by filing the complaint in this action on May 14, 2018. (ECF No. 1.)

         LEGAL ...


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