United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ROCHELLE Y. HAMS, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
BRIAN A. TSUCHIDA, Magistrate Judge.
Rochelle Hams appeals the denial of her Supplemental Security Income application. She contends the ALJ erred by (1) finding that she could perform her past work as a mail clerk, and (2) rejecting medical opinions written by treating providers. Dkt. 12 at 1. As discussed below, the Court recommends the case be REVERSED and REMANDED for further administrative proceedings under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Ms. Hams is currently 59 years old, has a tenth-grade education and additional vocational training, and has worked as a receptionist, mail clerk, reservationist, data entry clerk, and manufacturing clerk. On February 26, 2007, she protectively applied for benefits, alleging disability as of July 18, 2002. Tr. 155-57, 167. Her application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 82-90, 93-95. The ALJ conducted a hearing on November 2, 2009, and subsequently found Ms. Hams not disabled. Tr. 12-68. After the Appeals Council denied Ms. Hams's request for review, Ms. Hams appealed to this court, which reversed the ALJ's decision and remanded for additional proceedings. Tr. 1-6, 882-905. The ALJ conducted additional hearings on November 21, 2012, and January 28, 2013, and subsequently found Ms. Hams not disabled. Tr. 725-861. As the Appeals Council again denied Ms. Hams's request for review, the ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's final decision. Tr. 713-16.
THE ALJ'S DECISION
Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process,  the ALJ found:
Step one: Ms. Hams last engaged in substantial gainful activity on February 26, 2007, her protective filing date.
Step two: Ms. Hams's fibromyalgia; lumbago; bipolar disorder; pain disorder associated with both psychological factors and a general medical condition; generalized anxiety disorder; and personality disorder, with dependent and histrionic features, were severe impairments.
Step three: These impairments did not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.
Residual Functional Capacity ("RFC"): Ms. Hams could perform light work as follows: she can stand and/or walk for six hours and sit for six hours out of an eight-hour workday. She can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, but can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She has unlimited ability to balance. She can occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The claimant needs to avoid concentrated exposure to extreme heat, extreme cold, extreme humidity, and vibrations. She should avoid even moderate exposure to hazards including unprotected heights and moving machinery. She can understand, remember, and carry out simple, routine, and repetitive tasks. The claimant is able to accept instructions from supervisors and get along with coworkers, but cannot have contact with the general public. She is able to adapt to routine workplace changes.
Step four: Ms. Hams could perform her past work as a mail clerk, and was thus not disabled.
A. The ALJ Erred at ...