United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
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, Dkt. No. 3; Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. No. 4). This matter has been fully briefed ( see Dkt. Nos. 10, 11, 12).
After considering and reviewing the record, the Court finds that the ALJ failed to evaluate properly plaintiff's allegations and credibility. Plaintiff alleged that his heart attack, high blood pressure, COPD, and edema, among other impairments, prevented him from sitting, walking, and standing for long periods of time. The ALJ found that plaintiff's allegations were not supported by his activities of daily living, including letting his dog out, swimming once a week, vacuuming, and taking care of his six-year-old granddaughter for less than an hour after school. However, none of these activities require sitting, walking or standing for long periods of time.
Therefore, the ALJ's reliance on plaintiff's activities of daily living to discount his credibility was in error. This error is not harmless. Therefore, this matter is reversed and remanded pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for further administrative proceedings.
Plaintiff, RICHARD YOUNG, was born in 1961 and was 46 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of December 1, 2007 ( see Tr. 195-201). Plaintiff graduated from high school and then attended a vocational school getting certificates in auto repair and construction (Tr. 53). Plaintiff mostly has done construction work as a framer, but also has done fiberglass work for boat building companies, unloaded trucks, worked landscaping and fished in Alaska (Tr. 55-57).
Plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of "coronary artery disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, varicosities, and hypertension (20 CFR 416.920(c))" (Tr. 29). At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was living in a house with his daughter and granddaughter (Tr. 51).
On April 22, 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. 195-201). The application was denied initially and following reconsideration (Tr. 87-93). Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Rebekah Ross ("the ALJ") on October 28, 2011 ( see Tr. 43-86). On December 16, 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. 24-42).
On June 27, 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. 1-5). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.981. Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court seeking judicial review of the ALJ's written decision in August, 2013 ( see Dkt. No. 1). Defendant filed the sealed administrative record regarding this matter ("Tr.") on October 16, 2013 ( see Dkt. No. 7).
In plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issues: (1) Did the Commissioner err in failing to address and analyze plaintiff's medically determinable impairment of dyspnea; (2) Did the Commissioner err in her evaluation of the medical evidence in arriving at her credibility assessment and residual functional capacity assessment; and (3) Did the Commissioner err by relying on the testimony of a vocational expert ("VE") which is inconsistent with the Dictionary of Occupational Titles ( see Dkt. No. 10, p. 2).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court may set aside the Commissioner's denial of social security benefits if the ALJ's findings are based on legal error or not supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. Bayliss v. Barnhart, 427 F.3d 1211, 1214 n.1 (9th Cir. ...