United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
PYM, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
11, 2018, plaintiff Natasha D. filed a complaint against
defendant, the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“Commissioner”), seeking a review
of a denial of a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits (“DIB”). The parties have
fully briefed the matters in dispute, and the court deems the
matter suitable for adjudication without oral argument.
presents three disputed issues for decision: (1) whether the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred at step
two when he found plaintiff only suffered from a severe
impairment in one knee; (2) whether the ALJ erred at step two
when he failed to find plaintiff suffered from a severe
mental impairment; and (3) whether the ALJ’s residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) determination was
supported by substantial evidence.
carefully studied the parties’ memoranda on the issues
in dispute, the Administrative Record (“AR”), and
the decision of the ALJ, the court concludes that, as
detailed herein, the ALJ committed a typographical error when
he failed to specify which of plaintiff’s knees had a
severe impairment, erred at step two when he failed to find
plaintiff suffered from a severe mental impairment, and his
RFC determination was not supported by substantial evidence.
The court therefore remands this matter to the Commissioner
in accordance with the principles and instructions enunciated
in this Memorandum Opinion and Order.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
who was thirty years old on her alleged disability onset
date, is a high school graduate and has phlebotomy and
medical assistant certificates. AR at 50, 332. Plaintiff has
past relevant work as a phlebotomist, administrative clerk,
and home care provider. Id. at 47.
March 18, 2014, plaintiff filed an application for a period
of disability and DIB due to bilateral knee pain, lower back
pain, and depression. Id. at 50. The application was
denied initially and upon reconsideration, after which
plaintiff filed a request for a hearing. Id. at
November 9, 2016, plaintiff appeared and testified at a
hearing before the ALJ. Id. at 36-49. The ALJ also
heard testimony from Carmen Roman, a vocational expert.
Id. at 47-48. On December 7, 2016, the ALJ denied
plaintiff’s claim for benefits. Id. at 24-31.
the well-known five-step sequential evaluation process, the
ALJ found, at step one, that plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since September 1, 2013, the
alleged onset date. Id. at 26.
two, the ALJ found plaintiff suffered from the severe
impairment of osteoarthritis of her knee. Id.
three, the ALJ found plaintiff’s impairments, whether
individually or in combination, did not meet or medically
equal one of the listed impairments set forth in 20 C.F.R.
part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the “Listings”).
then assessed plaintiff’s RFC,  and determined plaintiff had
the RFC to perform light work, with the limitations that
plaintiff could occasionally climb, crawl, and kneel, and
could not work on unprotected heights or dangerous machinery.
Id. at 27.
found, at step four, that plaintiff was capable of performing
her past relevant work as phlebotomist and administrative
clerk. Id. at 30. Consequently, the ALJ concluded
plaintiff did not suffer from a disability as defined by the
Social Security Act. Id. at 31.
filed a timely request for review of the ALJ’s
decision, but the Appeals Council denied the request for
review. Id. at 1-3. The ALJ’s decision ...