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Marshall v. Colvin

United States District Court, Western District of Washington, Tacoma

April 17, 2015

KIRK ALLEN MARSHALL, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING DEFENDANT’S DECISION TO DENY BENEFITS

Karen L. Strombom United States Magistrate Judge

Plaintiff has brought this matter for judicial review of defendant’s denial of his application for disability insurance benefits. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73 and Local Rule MJR 13, the parties have consented to have this matter heard by the undersigned Magistrate Judge. After reviewing the parties’ briefs and the remaining record, the Court hereby finds that for the reasons set forth below, defendant’s decision to deny benefits should be reversed and this matter should be remanded for further administrative proceedings.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On March 16, 2011, plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits, alleging disability as of December 10, 2008. See Dkt. 9, Administrative Record (“AR”) 14. That application was denied upon initial administrative review on May 12, 2011, and on reconsideration on July 28, 2011. See Id. A hearing was held before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) on December 28, 2012, at which plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared and testified, as did a vocational expert. See AR 29-72.

In a decision dated January 31, 2013, the ALJ determined plaintiff to be not disabled. See AR 14-23. Plaintiff’s request for review of the ALJ’s decision was denied by the Appeals Council on May 20, 2014, making that decision the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the “Commissioner”). See AR 1; 20 C.F.R. § 404.981. On June 18, 2014, plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court seeking judicial review of the Commissioner’s final decision. See Dkt. 3. The administrative record was filed with the Court on August 25, 2014. See Dkt. 9. The parties have completed their briefing, and thus this matter is now ripe for the Court’s review.

Plaintiff argues defendant’s decision to deny benefits should be reversed and remanded for further administrative proceedings because the ALJ erred:

(1) in failing to properly consider the medical opinion evidence from Robert Hoskins, M.D.;
(2) in failing to take into account the limiting effects of plaintiff’s pain in assessing his residual functional capacity;
(3) in discounting plaintiff’s credibility;
(4) in rejecting the lay witness evidence in the record;
(5) in failing to inquire about a conflict between the vocational expert’s testimony and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (“DOT”) regarding the need to have close proximity to a bathroom and that need’s impact on his ability to perform his past relevant work as a mail clerk; and
(6) in finding plaintiff to be capable of performing other jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy in light of the vocational expert’s failure to provide sufficiently accurate testimony regarding those numbers.

Defendant agrees this matter should be reversed and remanded, because the ALJ erred in relying on the vocational expert’s testimony concerning plaintiff’s past relevant work and the number of other jobs existing in the national economy. In addition, defendant argues reversal and remand is warranted in light of the ALJ’s failure to provide any rationale for assessing a residual functional capacity that included a limitation that plaintiff would have been off-task for five percent of the workday. For the reasons set forth below, the Court agrees the ALJ erred as argued by defendant, and therefore finds the decision to deny benefits should be ...


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