United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT
J. RICHARD CREATURA, 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. 3; Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 4). This matter has been fully briefed ( see Dkt. 10, 14, 15).
After considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes that the ALJ failed to provide any reason for rejecting the opinion from a Disability Determination Service staff physician that plaintiff requires work that includes a "hands on" demonstration, even though the ALJ gave great weight to this doctor's opinion. Although defendant contends that the error is harmless as the Dictionary of Occupational Titles ("DOT") indicates that one of the jobs that the ALJ identified at step five as a job that plaintiff could perform includes "hands on" demonstration of work requirements, the DOT makes no such indication.
Therefore, this matter is reversed and remanded pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to the Acting Commissioner for further consideration consistent with this order.
Plaintiff, RHONDA MARIE FISCHER, was born in 1963 and was 38 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of December 31, 2001 ( see AR. 202, 209). Plaintiff has no relevant work experience (AR. 29).
According to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of "fibromyalgia, tendonitis of the bilateral knees, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c))" (AR. 19).
At the time of the hearing, plaintiff and her young son were living with her parents in their home (AR. 46).
On March 25, 2011, plaintiff protectively filed 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 (AR. 202-08, 209-14) Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and following reconsideration ( see AR. 73-83, 84-94, 97-109, 110-19). Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Riley J. Atkins ("the ALJ") on May 22, 2013 ( see AR. 37-70). On May 30, 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. 14-36).
In plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issues: (1) Did the ALJ err in failing to include in his residual functional capacity finding, all of the limitations assessed by Steven Haney, M.D.; (2) Did the ALJ err in rejecting the opinion of treating rheumatologist, James Nakashima, M.D.; (3) Did the ALJ err in rejecting the opinion of Robert Schneider, Ph.D.; (4) Did the ALJ err in rejecting the opinion of Erum Khaleeq, M.D.; (5) Did the ALJ err in rejecting the plaintiff's testimony; and (6) Did the ALJ err in finding that plaintiff is able to perform work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy ( see Dkt. 10, pp. 1-2). Because this Court reverses and remands the case based on issue 1, the Court need not further review all issues and expects the ALJ to reevaluate the record as a whole in light of the direction provided below.
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 Cir. ...