United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
GAY L. TAPPON, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BRIAN A. TSUCHIDA, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Gay L. Tappon seeks review of the denial of her Supplemental Security Income application. She contends the ALJ erred by (1) finding that she did not meet or equal Listing 12.04, (2) either rejecting or failing to fully account for medical opinions, (3) rejecting lay witness testimony, and (4) failing to include all limitations in the residual functional capacity ("RFC") assessment and the hypothetical posed to the vocational expert ("VE"). Dkt. 19 at 1. As discussed below, the Court recommends the case be REVERSED and REMANDED for further administrative proceedings.
Ms. Tappon is currently 55 years old, has a high school diploma and some college coursework and additional certification, and has worked in cosmetic sales and as a bank teller. On March 4, 2008, she protectively applied for benefits, alleging disability as of March 4, 2008. Tr. 270-72. Her application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 163-66, 168-70. The ALJ conducted a hearing on August 3, 2010 (Tr. 88-133), and subsequently found Ms. Tappon not disabled. Tr. 139-52. The Appeals Council granted Ms. Tappon's request for review, and remanded the case to the ALJ for further development of the record and reassessment of various aspects of the case. Tr. 158-62.
The ALJ conducted a second hearing on June 19, 2012 (Tr. 46-87), subsequently finding Ms. Tappon not disabled. Tr. 20-38. As the Appeals Council denied Ms. Tappon's request for review, the ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's final decision. Tr. 1-5.
THE ALJ'S DECISION
Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process,  the ALJ found:
Step one: Ms. Tappon did not engage in substantial gainful activity since March 4, 2008, the application date.
Step two: Ms. Tappon's affective disorder, panic disorder with agoraphobia, substance abuse disorder, and status-post left elbow fracture are severe.
Step three: These impairments did not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.
RFC: Ms. Tappon has the RFC to perform light work, with the following exceptions: she is limited to frequent reaching and grasping with the left upper extremity; she can understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions; she has average ability to perform sustained work activities in an ordinary work setting on a regular and continuing basis within customary tolerances of employers' rules regarding sick leave and absence; and she can make judgments on simple work-related decisions and can respond appropriately to supervision and co-workers, and can deal with changes in a stable work in environment; and has no limits on dealing with the general public in the workplace.
Step four: Ms. Tappon has no past relevant work.
Step five: Because there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Ms. Tappon can perform, she is not disabled.