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Thaihang Thi Vu v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

April 18, 2014

THAIHANG THI VU, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, 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. 6; Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge, ECF No. 7). This matter has been fully briefed ( see ECF Nos. 13, 17, 18).

After considering and reviewing the record, the Court finds that the ALJ did not err when he failed to credit fully plaintiff's complaints because, among other things, the objective medical evidence does not support plaintiff's alleged limitations. Similarly, the ALJ provided specific and legitimate reasons for failing to credit fully opinions from treating physician, Dr. Hennessey, since, among other things, Dr. Hennessey relied heavily upon plaintiff's subjective complaints and not on objective medical evidence to support her opinions.

Therefore, this matter is affirmed pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, THAIHANG THI VU, was born in 1963 and was 38 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of June 15, 2002 ( see Tr. 108-15). Plaintiff attended school to the eighth grade in Vietnam (Tr. 37). She has been in the United States since 1992 ( id. ). Plaintiff has no past work history (Tr. 116-17).

Plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of "lumbar disk disease (20 CFR 416.920(c))" (Tr. 17). At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was living in rented assisted housing (Tr. 38).

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On August 18, 2009, plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a) (Title XVI) of the Social Security Act ( see Tr. 108-115). The application was denied initially and following reconsideration (Tr. 50-53, 59-64). Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Verrell Dethloff ("the ALJ") on September 13, 2011 ( see Tr. 34-47). On October 12, 2011, the ALJ issued a written decision in which he concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the Social Security Act ( see Tr.12-33).

On April 26, 2013, 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. 1-7). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.981. Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court seeking judicial review of the ALJ's written decision in June, 2013 ( see ECF No. 1, 4). Defendant filed the sealed administrative record regarding this matter ("Tr.") on August 19, 2013 ( see ECF Nos. 10, 11).

Defendant summarizes the issues raised by the plaintiff as:

(A) Is the ALJ's residual functional capacity assessment - limiting [plaintiff] to light work with other limitations - supported by substantial evidence?
(B) Did the ALJ provide valid reasons for discounting [plaintiff's] subjective complaints?
(C) Did the ALJ provide specific and legitimate reasons for discounting the opinion of [plaintiff's] treating physician Katherine Hennessey, M.D.?
(D) Is the ALJ's finding that [plaintiff] is "not disabled" under the Medical-Vocational Rule 202.16 ...

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