United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER REVERSING DECISION OF
THE COMMISSIONER AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER ADMINISTRATIVE
A. AUDERO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
August 31, 2018, Plaintiff filed a Complaint seeking review
of the Social Security Commissioner's final decision
denying her application for a period of disability and
Disability Insurance Benefits pursuant to Title II of the
Social Security Act. This matter is fully briefed and ready
for decision. For the reasons discussed below, the
Commissioner's final decision is reversed, and this
matter is remanded for further administrative proceedings.
August 16, 2015, Plaintiff filed an application for a period
of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits, alleging
disability beginning on May 15, 2015. (Administrative Record
[AR] 22, 62, 74.) Plaintiff alleged disability due to
"carpal tunnel syndrome - bilateral; arthritis (hand) -
bilateral; trigger finger - right hand; acute anxiety
disorder; PTSD; depression." (AR 74.) After the
application was denied initially and on reconsideration,
Plaintiff requested a hearing before an administrative law
judge ("ALJ"). (AR 99-100.)
October 6, 2017, the assigned ALJ held an administrative
hearing. (AR 40-61.) Plaintiff appeared with counsel, and the
ALJ heard testimony from Plaintiff and a vocational expert.
decision issued on October 19, 2017, the ALJ denied
Plaintiffs claim after making the following findings pursuant
to the Commissioner's five-step evaluation. (AR 22-35.)
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
during the period from her alleged disability onset date of
May 15, 2015 through her date last insured of June 30, 2017.
(AR 24.) Plaintiff had "severe" impairments
consisting of "bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome,
bilateral trigger finger, depression, and anxiety." (AR
25.) Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled the requirements of
one of the impairments from the Commissioner's Listing of
Impairments. (Id.) She had a residual functional
capacity to perform "light work . . . except her ability
to perform fine manipulation and gross manipulation is
limited to frequent (but not constant or repetitive), she
must avoid concentrated exposure to excessive vibration and
temperature extremes, and can perform detailed but not
complex tasks." (AR 27.) Plaintiff could perform her
past relevant work as a retail sales clerk. (AR 33.) In the
alternative, Plaintiff could perform other work in the
national economy, in the occupations of cashier II, ticket
taker, and storage facility rental clerk. (AR 34.)
Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not
disabled as defined by the Social Security Act. (AR 1697.)
20, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs request for
review. (AR 1-6.) Thus, the ALJ's decision became the
final decision of the Commissioner.
parties raise the following disputed issues:
1. Whether the ALJ properly considered Plaintiffs testimony
regarding her pain and limitations.
2. Whether the ALJ properly considered the opinion of Dr.
Michael Rubinstein, a treating physician.
3. Whether the ALJ properly considered Plaintiffs hand
4. Whether the ALJ properly considered the state agency
physicians' opinions concerning Plaintiffs mental
5. Whether the ALJ properly considered the opinion of Dr.
Zarrabi, a treating physician.
6. Whether the ALJ properly considered the lay witness
statement of ...