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. 5; Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. No. 6). This matter has been fully briefed ( see Dkt. Nos. 15, 16, 19).
After considering and reviewing the record, the Court finds that the ALJ erred by ignoring the opinion of plaintiff's primary care provider Anthony E. Lyon-Loftus, PAC, that plaintiff was not able to work on a full time basis.
Plaintiff, CHRYSTAL DAWN LIVELY, was born in 1970, and was 40 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of September 30, 2011 ( see Tr. 174-76, 178-83). Plaintiff has a high school diploma (Tr. 28). Plaintiff has worked as a cashier, a retail price marker, and a cook in a retirement home (Tr. 29-30, 46-48).
According to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of "systemic lupus erythemotosus (SLE) and Sjogren's syndrome (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c))" (Tr. 13).
At the time of the hearing, plaintiff and her two children, ages two years and fourteen years, were living with plaintiff's mother and stepfather (Tr. 28).
Plaintiff's applications for disability insurance ("DIB") benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423 (Title II) and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a) (Title XVI) of the Social Security Act were denied initially and following reconsideration ( see Tr. 55-62, 63-70, 73-84, 85-96). Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge M. J. Adams ("the ALJ") on September 17, 2012 ( see Tr. 24-52). On October 18, 2012, the ALJ issued a written decision in which the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the Social Security Act ( see Tr. 8-23).
In plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issues: (1) Did the ALJ properly assess opinions from treating and examining medical providers; (2) Did the ALJ provide "clear and convincing reasons" to reject plaintiff's statements; and (3) Did the ALJ consider all of plaintiff's impairments and all of the evidence when assessing plaintiff's residual functional capacity ("RFC"), and are the resulting step 4 findings supported by law and fact ( see Dkt. No. 15, p. 1).
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. 2005) ( citing Tidwell v. Apfel, 161 F.3d 599, 601 (9th Cir. 1999)).
Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred by ignoring the opinion of plaintiff's primary care provider Anthony E. Lyon-Loftus, PAC, that plaintiff was unable to work full time. Dkt. 15, pp. 7-10. Specifically, PAC Lyon-Loftus opined that plaintiff was limited to working at the sedentary to light level for approximately 11 to 20 hours per week due to pain, dizziness, and unpredictable weakness and disorientation secondary to chronic fatigue caused by lupus ( see Tr. 380-82; accord Tr. 391, 393). This opinion is significant because it contains greater limitations than determined by the ALJ in the RFC determination, which is premised on plaintiff's ability ...