149 F.3d 1051 (9th Cir. 1998), 97-15489, Corbin v. Apfel

Docket Nº:97-15489.
Citation:149 F.3d 1051
Party Name:98 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 5814, 98 Daily Journal D.A.R. 8073 Judy CORBIN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Kenneth S. APFEL, [*] Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:July 28, 1998
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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Page 1051

149 F.3d 1051 (9th Cir. 1998)

98 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 5814,

98 Daily Journal D.A.R. 8073

Judy CORBIN, Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

Kenneth S. APFEL, [*] Commissioner, Social

Security Administration, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 97-15489.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

July 28, 1998

Submitted June 12, 1998.

Richard E. Donaldson, Las Vegas, Nevada, for plaintiff-appellant.

Michael R. Power, Assistant Regional Counsel, Social Security Administration, San Francisco, California, for defendant-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court * for the District of Nevada Lloyd D. George, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. CV-94-00327-LDG.

Before: BROWNING and SNEED, Circuit Judges, and ZAPATA, [**] District Judge.

SNEED, Circuit Judge:

Judy Corbin appeals the district court's denial of her request in a Social Security disability action for attorney's fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C.

Page 1052

§ 2412(d). We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291.

Corbin argues that, in considering her fee request, the district court erred by focusing on whether the government's position as to the question of her disability was substantially justified. Instead, she claims that the court should have focused on whether the government's decision to defend on appeal procedural errors made by the Administrative Law Judge who reviewed her case was substantially justified. Because the errors made by the ALJ--a failure to make key findings and weigh basic evidence--were fundamental to the decision-making process at the agency level, we agree, and reverse and remand to the district court.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Judy Corbin ("Corbin") filed a claim for Social Security Disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income with the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("the Commissioner"). At the time of the claim, Corbin was 39 years old, but claimed a variety of ailments which allegedly prohibited her from engaging in regular work. The claim for benefits was ultimately denied by an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") assigned to the case.

The district court affirmed the ALJ decision, and Corbin appealed to the Ninth Circuit. Corbin v. Chater, No. 95-15482, 1996 WL 396726 (9th Cir.1996). This court, in an unpublished memorandum disposition, reversed and remanded the...

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