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Bams v. Colvin

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

December 18, 2014

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


JOHN L. WEINBERG, Magistrate Judge.


Type of benefits sought:

(X) Disability Insurance
(X) Supplemental Security Income


Sex: Male
Age: 33 at alleged onset date

Principal Disabilities Alleged by Plaintiff:

Mental health and left knee impairments (AR 44).

Disability Allegedly Began: September 11, 2009 Principal Previous Work Experience: Material Handler Last worked: has not worked since alleged onset Education Level Achieved by Plaintiff: at least a high school education


Overview. This is the second time this case has cycled through this court.

Following an initial administrative denial of Plaintiff's claims in 2011, Plaintiff sought relief in this court. The court reversed and remanded to the Commissioner for further proceedings. The ALJ conducted a second hearing, and issued a second decision which closely tracked the first decision. The ALJ found the same Residual Functional Capacity (RFC); found that Plaintiff could perform the same jobs exising in the national economy; and again denied benefits. Plaintiff has again sought review in this court.

On its first review, this court reversed and remanded because the ALJ had not stated legally valid reasons for rejecting various evidence relating to Plaintiff's mental impairments. Following the second hearing, the ALJ made essentially the same findings as to the same evidence; but augmented in some respects his statement of reasons for those findings. Plaintiff again challenges the validity of those reasons, while the Commissioner defends them. The evidence at issue all relates to Plaintiff's mental impairments. There apparently is no issue as to the ALJ's findings concerning Plaintiff's physical impairments, and their effect upon his RFC. The focus of the case this time, therefore, is the validity of the ALJ's revised statements of reasons for giving little or no weight to specific items of evidence relating to Plaintiff's mental impairments.

The prior proceedings in the case, to date, are summarized below.

1. First Hearing Before ALJ Robert P. Kingsley:

Date of Hearing: November 2, 2011, via video; hearing transcript AR 30-65
Date of Decision: January 27, 2012
Appears in Record at: AR 7-29

Summary of Decision:

Claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date. He has severe impairments of schizoaffective disorder, depressed type; rule out posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and osteoarthritis of the left knee. His impairments, even in combination, do not qualify under the Listings.
As to Plaintiff's credibility, his medically determinable impairments could reasonably be expected to cause some of the alleged symptoms. But Plaintiff's statements concerning the intensity, persistence and limiting effects of these symptoms are not fully credible. There are significant inconsistencies in Plaintiff's statements. The medical record does not support his alleged limitations. His ability to participate in treatment programs, his activities of daily living, and his social functioning, are also inconsistent with his claimed limitations. Further, he has received significant benefit from the use of medications.
He has the RFC to perform light work, subject to certain limitations. He cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. He can do occasional kneeling or crawling; and frequent climbing of ramps or stairs, balancing, stooping and crouching. He must avoid concentrated exposure to cold and hazards. He is limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks with only one to two steps. He can have occasional contact with co-workers and supervisors, but no contact with the public. He can have few, if any, changes in the work setting. He can perform no tasks involving a manufacturing-style production pace.
He cannot perform his past relevant work, which was as a Material Handler. The testimony of the Vocational Expert identified examples of three jobs Plaintiff can perform: Room Cleaner, Mailroom Clerk, and Cafe Attendant. This establishes he can perform substantial work which ...

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