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Archuleta v. Colvin

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

December 22, 2014

RICHARD ARCHULETA, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION ON PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

J. RICHARD CREATURA, Magistrate Judge.

This matter has been referred to United States Magistrate Judge J. Richard Creatura pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Magistrate Judge Rule MJR 4(a)(4), and as authorized by Mathews, Secretary of H.E.W. v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 271-72 (1976). This matter has been fully briefed ( see Dkt. 12, 13, 14).

After considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes that the ALJ failed to provide clear and convincing reasons for the failure to credit fully plaintiff's allegations and testimony. For example, despite the ALJ's finding, plaintiff's statements about watching television were not, in fact, inconsistent. Similarly, the ALJ relied on plaintiff's activities of daily living to discount his credibility, however, plaintiff's activities of daily living were not inconsistent with his other testimony; did not demonstrate any transferability to a work setting; and, were not inconsistent with his particular claims of disabling limitations.

Because the ALJ's error regarding plaintiff's credibility is not harmless error, this matter should be reversed and remanded pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for further proceedings consistent with this Report and Recommendation.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, RICHARD ARCHULETA, was born in 1962 and was 47 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of September 18, 2010 ( see AR. 188-93, 194-97). Plaintiff graduated from high school (AR. 49). Plaintiff has work experience as a warehouse worker, delivery driver, cashier/clerk and dishwasher (AR. 232). He last worked for a transportation company, but was unable to continue because of his health conditions (AR 50).

According to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of "vestibular neuritis; [and] history of left shoulder dislocation with rotator cuff tear, status post surgery (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c))" (AR. 32).

At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was separated from his wife and living alone (AR. 49).

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

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 AR. 107-10, 115-22, 123-32). Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Ilene Sloan ("the ALJ") on January 28, 2013 ( see AR. 44-70). On February 15, 2013, the ALJ issued a written decision in which the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the Social Security Act ( see AR. 27-42).

On April 24, 2014, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review, making the written decision by the ALJ the final agency decision subject to judicial review (AR. 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 June, 2014 ( see Dkt. 1, 4). Defendant filed the sealed administrative record regarding this matter ("AR.") on September 12, 2014 ( see Dkt. 9, 10).

In plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issues: (1) Whether or not the administrative law judge (ALJ) provided clear and convincing reasons for rejecting plaintiff's testimony; (2) Whether or not the ALJ properly evaluated the medical source opinions; and (3) Whether or not the ALJ correctly determined that plaintiff could perform his past relevant work and other work existing in the national economy ( see Dkt. 12, p. 1). Because the Court concludes that the issue of plaintiff's credibility is dispositive and requires remand, the remaining matters will not be discussed herein.

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 ...


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