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Franklin-Davis v. Colvin

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

January 9, 2014

KAMILLE FRANKLIN-DAVIS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, [1] Defendant.

ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

J. RICHARD CREATURA, Magistrate Judge.

This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Fed.R.Civ.P. 73 and Local Magistrate Judge Rule MJR 13 ( see also Notice of Initial Assignment to a U.S. Magistrate Judge and Consent Form, ECF No. 5; Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge, ECF No. 6). This matter has been fully briefed ( see ECF Nos. 13, 14, 15).

All of the treating and examining mental health care providers who offered an opinion concluded that plaintiff had marked or severe functional limitations due to her depressed mood, social withdrawal and ability to handle the normal stresses of a work environment. The ALJ rejected those opinions in favor of a non-treating, non-examining psychologist who reviewed the records and concluded that plaintiff had no such marked or severe limitations. The ALJ failed to provide clear and convincing reasons for rejecting some non-contradicted opinions of examining physicians and failed to provide specific and legitimate reasons for rejecting the conclusions of treating and examining mental health providers in favor of a reviewing examiner. For these reasons, the Court orders that this matter be reversed and remanded for further consideration.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, KAMILLE FRANKLIN-DAVIS, was born in 1976 and was 32 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of September 12, 2008 ( see Tr. 165).

As one treatment provider summarized, plaintiff had"a horrible childhood" (Tr. 592). She was physically and sexually abused and was raped twice at the age of six and again at age sixteen ( id. ). Her mother had a history of alcohol and drug abuse, eventually resulting in her death because of a crack-induced stroke ( id. ). Plaintiff has had at least two psychiatric hospitalizations, including one instance when she hit herself in the head with a brick and another suicide attempt by cutting her hands (Tr. 441). Among other symptoms, she has had auditory hallucinations, Bipolar Disorder, "Currently Depressed" (in March, 2009), and a former history of alcohol abuse (Tr. 441-42). She has been married twice. She has three children by her first husband (Tr. 442). After dropping out of school in the ninth grade, she returned and obtained her diploma, in addition to taking some post-high school courses ( id. ).

Plaintiff has work experience as a bill collector, as a school bus driver, as a customer service representative, as a night auditor, as a cashier, as an alarm monitor and as a janitor (Tr. 76).

Plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of"bi-polar disorder, PTSD, panic disorder without agoraphobia, and obesity (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c))" (Tr. 29).

At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was living with her husband and three children (Tr. 52).

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance ("DIB") benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423 (Title II) and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a) (Title XVI) of the Social Security Act in February and March of 2009, respectively ( see Tr. 27, 165-76). The applications were denied initially in June, 2009 and following reconsideration on January 4, 1010 (Tr. 89-92, 100-04). Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Stephanie Martz ("the ALJ") on February 3, 2011 ( see Tr. 46-81). On March 11, 2011, the ALJ issued a written decision in which the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the Social Security Act ( see Tr. 24-45).

On September 18, 2012, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review, making the written decision by the ALJ the final agency decision subject to judicial review (Tr. 1-6). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.981. Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court seeking judicial review of the ALJ's written decision in November, 2012 ( see ECF No. 1, 3). Defendant filed the sealed administrative record regarding this matter ("Tr.") on February 27, 2013 ( see ECF Nos. 10, 11).

In plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issues: (1) Whether or not the ALJ gave legally sufficient reasons for the weight given to the opinions of plaintiff's mental health providers; (2) Whether or not the ALJ gave legally sufficient reasons, supported by substantial evidence in the records, for finding plaintiff not fully credible; (3) Whether or not the ALJ properly evaluated the impact of plaintiff's obesity;

(4) Whether or not the ALJ gave legally sufficient reasons for the weight afforded the reports of the lay witnesses; and (5) Whether or not the errors in the ALJ's decision are harmful and warrant remand for further ...


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