United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle Division
[Copyrighted Material Omitted]
For Daniel James Binford, Plaintiff: Rosemary B. Schurman, LEAD ATTORNEY, KIRKLAND, WA.
For Carolyn Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant: Kerry Jane Keefe, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE (SEA), SEATTLE, WA; Erin Highland, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, SEATTLE, WA.
ORDER REVERSING COMMISSIONER, REMANDING CASE FOR AWARD OF BENEFITS
Marsha J. Pechman Chief, United States District Judge.
THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Objections (Dkt. No. 17) to the Report and Recommendation of the Honorable Mary Alice Theiler, United States Magistrate Judge. (Dkt. No. 16.) Having reviewed the Report and Recommendation, the Objections, and all related papers, the Court declines to adopt the Report and Recommendation, REVERSES the Commissioner, and REMANDS the case for an immediate award of benefits.
Plaintiff raises two objections to the Report and Recommendation: (1) Magistrate Judge Theiler misapplied the relevant legal authorities when finding that the ALJ properly rejected the medical opinions of eight physicians and one ARNP; and (2) Magistrate Judge Theiler misapplied the relevant legal authorities when finding that the ALJ properly rejected Plaintiff's testimony and finding that it was a harmless error to omit any discussion of a lay witness statement. (Dkt. No. 17.)
I. Legal Standard
Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 72, the Court must resolve de novo any part of the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation that has been properly objected to and may accept, reject, or modify the recommended disposition. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3); see also 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
II. Plaintiff's Objections
A. Medical Evidence
Plaintiff argues the ALJ did not provide legally adequate reasons for discounting the largely consistent opinions of eight treating and examining physicians and one treating ARNP in favor of opinions by non-examining state agency doctors. (Dkt. No. 17 at 3-6.) Plaintiff argues that the incorrectly discredited opinions overwhelmingly establish that Plaintiff is disabled due to extreme anger, irritability, insomnia, passive homicidal ideation, suicidal ideation, violent fantasies, and multiple prior suicide attempts related to childhood sexual abuse that resulted in hospitalization. (Id. at 5.) Plaintiff argues that in recommending that the ALJ's decision be affirmed, Magistrate Judge Theiler incorrectly applied controlling precedent. (Id.)
An ALJ is generally required to give more weight to the opinions of treating and examining physicians than to those of non-examining physicians. Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 830 (9th Cir. 1995), SSR
96-2p. In order to reject the opinion of a treating or examining physician that is contradicted by the opinion of another physician, an ALJ must provide specific and legitimate reasons supported by substantial evidence in the record.
81 F.3d at 830. " This is so because, even when contradicted, a treating or examining physician's opinion is still owed deference and will often be 'entitled to the greatest weight ... even if it does not meet the test for controlling weight.'" Garrison v. Colvin,759 F.3d 995, 1012 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Orn v. Astrue,495 F.3d 625, 633 (9th Cir. 2007)). " The opinion of a nonexamining physician cannot by itself constitute substantial evidence that justifies the rejection ...