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Dean v. Colvin

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

June 9, 2014

SANDRA DEAN, 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. 3; Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge, ECF No. 4). This matter has been fully briefed ( see ECF Nos. 10, 14, 15).

After considering and reviewing the record, the Court finds that the ALJ failed to explain adequately why an opinion from a doctor whose opinion was given significant weight was rejected and the ALJ failed to rely properly on vocational expert testimony.

Therefore, this matter is reversed and remanded pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for further administrative proceedings.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, SANDRA DEAN, was born in 1949 and was 60 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of June 30, 2010 ( see Tr. 164-67). Plaintiff graduated from high school and has taken vocational classes in civil engineering and mechanical drafting. She had three weeks of intensive training in hemodialysis, and was a certified hemodialysis technician since 1974, but resigned/retired in June 2010 when the director began requiring a college degree (Tr. 38). She earned her Certified Nursing Assistant Certificate but was unable to "keep up with all my aches and stuff" (Tr. 41).

Plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of "asthma, obesity and osteoarthritis (20 CFR 404.1520(c))" (Tr. 15).

At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was living in her home with two of her grown sons; one working part-time and the other looking for work (Tr. 34)

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Following plaintiff's application for disability insurance ("DIB") benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423 (Title II) ( see Tr. 164-67; see also Tr. 69-76, 79-87), her requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Rebekah Ross ("the ALJ") on April 24, 2013 ( see Tr. 26-68). On May 8, 2013, the ALJ issued a written decision concluding that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the Social Security Act ( see Tr.10-25).

On July 19, 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. 1-6). See 20 C.F.R. § 404.981. Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court seeking judicial review of the ALJ's written decision in September, 2013 ( see ECF No. 1). Defendant filed the sealed administrative record regarding this matter ("Tr.") on November 12, 2013 ( see ECF Nos. 7, 8).

In plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issues: (1) Did the Commissioner err in determining plaintiff's residual functional capacity; (2) Did the Commissioner err in failing to properly consider opinion evidence; (3) Did the Commissioner err in failing to consider plaintiff's lateral epicondylitis as a severe impairment; and (4) Did the Commissioner err in failing to consider Grid Rule 202.06; ( see ECF 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. ...


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