United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Pym United States Magistrate Judge.
March 13, 2018, plaintiff Anita H. filed a complaint against
defendant, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”), seeking a review of a denial of
period of disability, disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”), and supplemental security income
(“SSI”). Both parties have consented to proceed
for all purposes before the assigned Magistrate Judge
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). The court deems the
matter suitable for adjudication without oral argument.
presents two main issues for decision: (1) whether the
Administrative Law Judge’s (“ALJ”) residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) assessment was
supported by substantial evidence; and (2) whether the ALJ
properly evaluated plaintiff’s subjective complaints.
Memorandum in Support of Plaintiff’s Complaint
(“P. Mem.”) at 5-11; see Memorandum in
Support of Defendant’s Answer (“D. Mem.”)
carefully studied the parties’ written submissions, the
decision of the ALJ, and the Administrative Record
(“AR”), the court concludes that, as detailed
herein, the ALJ’s RFC finding was not supported by
substantial evidence, and the ALJ failed to properly evaluate
plaintiff’s subjective complaints. The court therefore
remands this matter to the Commissioner in accordance with
the principles and instructions set forth in this Memorandum
Opinion and Order.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
who was 55 years old on her alleged disability onset date,
completed ninth grade. AR at 51, 66. She has past relevant
work as a home health attendant or caregiver and as a
companion. Id. at 61.
26, 2014, plaintiff filed an application for disability
insurance benefits. Id. at 66. In the application,
plaintiff alleges she has been disabled since March 1, 2010
due to high blood pressure, diabetes, low back pain, left leg
problems, knee pain, osteoporosis arthritis on knees, and
insomnia. Id. at 66-67. The Commissioner denied
plaintiff’s application, after which plaintiff filed a
request for reconsideration, which was denied. Id.
at 90-96. Plaintiff then filed a request for a hearing.
Id. at 97.
December 16, 2015, plaintiff, represented by counsel,
appeared at a hearing before the ALJ. Id. at 32-37.
At the hearing, the parties determined plaintiff’s SSI
application was not before the ALJ. Id. at 32. As
such, the ALJ continued the hearing until the application
could be located. Id. at 35-36. On October 13, 2016,
plaintiff, represented by counsel, again appeared and
testified at a hearing before the ALJ. Id. at 41-64.
The ALJ now had plaintiff’s SSI and DIB applications,
and the hearing proceeded. The ALJ also heard testimony from
Susan L. Allison, a vocational expert (“VE”).
Id. at 60-64. On January 30, 2017, the ALJ denied
plaintiff’s claim for benefits. Id. at 17-26.
the well-known five-step sequential evaluation process, the
ALJ found, at step one, that plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since March 1, 2010, the alleged
onset date. Id. at 22.
two, the ALJ found plaintiff suffered from the following
severe impairments: osteoarthritis, degenerative disc
disease, arthritis of knees, diabetes mellitus, neuropathy,
and obesity. Id.
three, the ALJ found plaintiff’s impairments, whether
individually or in combination, did not meet or medically
equal the severity of one of the listed impairments set forth
in 20 C.F.R. part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (the
“Listings”). Id. at 23.
then assessed plaintiff’s RFC,  and determined plaintiff had
the RFC to perform less than the full range of light work,
specifically, plaintiff could: lift and carry 20 pounds
occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; stand and walk six
hours in an eight-hour workday; sit six hours in an
eight-hour workday, with the ability to stand and stretch one
to two minutes per hour; climb stairs; occasionally climb
ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; and frequently stoop, kneel,
crouch, and crawl. Id.
found, at step four, that plaintiff was capable of performing
past relevant work as a home health attendant and companion.
Id. at 26. Consequently, the ALJ concluded plaintiff
did not suffer from a disability as defined by the Social
Security Act. Id.
filed a timely request for review of the ALJ’s
decision, which was denied by the Appeals Council.
Id. at 1-3. The ALJ’s decision stands as the
final decision of the Commissioner.