Torrez v. Commissioner of Social Security

Filing 29

FINAL JUDGMENT and ORDER Regarding Plaintiff's Social Security Complaint signed by Magistrate Judge Erica P. Grosjean on 0726/2017. CASE CLOSED.(Flores, E)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 JOSETTE JEANEEN TORREZ, Plaintiff, 12 v. 13 14 Case No. 1:17-cv-00095-EPG FINAL JUDGMENT AND ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF’S SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, 15 Defendant. 16 17 This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s complaint for judicial review of an 18 unfavorable decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration regarding her 19 applications for supplemental security income and disability insurance benefits. The parties have 20 consented to entry of final judgment by the United States Magistrate Judge under the provisions 21 of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) with any appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. (ECF Nos. 6, 22 8.) 23 At the hearing on July 25, 2017, the Court heard from the parties and, having reviewed the 24 record, administrative transcript, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, finds as follows: 25 For the reasons announced by the Court on the record at the conclusion of the parties’ oral 26 argument on July 25, 2017, the Court finds that the decision of the Commissioner of Social 27 Security should be reversed and the case should be remanded for further proceedings. 28 1 1 Additional evidence was submitted to the Social Security Administration and made part of 2 the administrative record prior to the final order of the Appeals Council dated March 31, 2016. 3 (AR 5-6). The additional evidence included a function by function assessment by Dr. Exum that 4 was inadvertently omitted from the record prior to the ALJ’s decision. (AR 585-86). The 5 previously omitted evidence also included additional evidence related to the period on or before 6 the ALJ’s decision, including treatment records from another treating physician, Dr. Ngo, which 7 are consistent with the medical opinion of Dr. Exum. (AR 547-553). “The Commissioner's 8 regulations permit claimants to submit new and material evidence to the Appeals Council and 9 require the Council to consider that evidence in determining whether to review the ALJ's 10 decision, so long as the evidence relates to the period on or before the ALJ's decision.” Brewes v. 11 Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 682 F.3d 1157, 1162 (9th Cir. 2012) (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.970(b)). 12 These additional materials pertain to the period at issue in the ALJ’s decision, are material to that 13 opinion, and call into question the bases of the ALJ’s decision, including its dismissal of Dr. 14 Exum’s opinion based in part on a lack of function by function assessment and reliance on non- 15 treating physicians. 16 On remand, the Agency shall examine the medical opinion of Dr. Ngo, as well as the 17 additional evidence submitted and made part of the record prior to the final decision of the 18 Agency. (AR 5-6). Finally, the Agency shall re-examine the opinion of Dr. Exum in light of the 19 inadvertently excluded documents related to Dr. Exum’s opinion. 20 Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s appeal from the administrative decision of 21 the Commissioner of Social Security and the case is remanded to the Social Security 22 Administration. The Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to enter judgment in favor of Plaintiff 23 Josette Jeaneen Torrez and against Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of 24 Social Security. IT IS SO ORDERED. 25 26 Dated: July 26, 2017 /s/ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 27 28 2

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