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Triggs v. Colvin

United States District Court, Western District of Washington, Tacoma

February 12, 2015

DANIEL L. TRIGGS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

ORDER ON PLAINTIFF’S COMPLAINT

J. Richard Creatura, United States 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. 5; Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 6). This matter has been fully briefed (see Dkt. 12, 13, 14).

After considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes that the ALJ did not err when he failed to credit fully the opinion of examining doctor, Dr. Harmon. The ALJ properly relied in part on a finding that her opinions were based on plaintiff’s subjective complaints, as well as his findings that Dr. Harmon’s opinions are inconsistent with the record as a whole and with plaintiff’s activities of daily living.

Therefore, this matter is affirmed pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, DANIEL L. TRIGGS, was born in 1962 and was 45 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of September 1, 2007 (see AR. 197-200, 201-05). Plaintiff was in special education and completed the 10th grade (AR. 42-43). Plaintiff has work experience as a groundskeeper, construction laborer, janitor and installing underground utilities (AR. 271-82). Plaintiff’s last employment was as a groundskeeper watering lawns and he was fired because he did not show up for work (AR. 36).

According to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of “bilateral knee pain, impingement syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and bipolar affective disorder/schizoaffective disorder, and alcohol dependence in remission (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c))” (AR. 11).

At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was living at a Christian halfway house (AR. 34).

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. 72-78, 79-87, 89-93, 94-100). Plaintiff’s requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Robert Kingsley (“the ALJ”) on April 17, 2013 (see AR. 30-55). On May 1, 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. 6-29).

In plaintiff’s Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issues: (1) Did the Commissioner err in the evaluation of the opinion evidence; (2) Did the Commissioner err by failing to find that plaintiff met or equaled a listing; and (3) Did the Commissioner err in determining plaintiff’s Residual Functional Capacity (see Dkt. 12, 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 ...


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