United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
JODIE L. DODSON, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING DEFENDANT'S
DECISION TO DENY BENEFITS
L. Strombom United States Magistrate Judge
has brought this matter for judicial review of
defendant's denial of her application for supplemental
security income (SSI) benefits. The parties have consented to
have this matter heard by the undersigned Magistrate Judge.
28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73;
Local Rule MJR 13. For the reasons set forth below, the Court
finds that defendant's decision to deny benefits should
be reversed, and that this matter should be remanded for
further administrative proceedings.
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
March 1, 2013, plaintiff filed an application for SSI
benefits, alleging she became disabled beginning October 12,
2005. Dkt.10, Administrative Record (AR) 16. That application
were denied on initial administrative review and on
reconsideration. Id. At a hearing held before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), plaintiff appeared and
testified, as did a vocational expert. AR 42-73.
written decision dated October 31, 2014, the ALJ found that
plaintiff could perform other jobs existing in significant
numbers in the national economy, and therefore that she was
noted disabled. AR 16-36. On April 28, 2016, the Appeals
Council denied plaintiff's request for review of that
decision, making it the Commissioner's final decision,
which plaintiff then appealed in a complaint filed with this
Court on June 17, 2016. AR 1; Dkt. 1-3; 20 C.F.R. §
seeks reversal of the ALJ's decision and remand for
further administrative proceedings, arguing the ALJ erred:
(1) in evaluating the opinion evidence from plaintiff's
treating mental health therapists, Faye Berg, LMHC, and
Samantha Halfen, MA, examining psychologist, Bryan Zolnikov,
Ph.D., and non-examining psychologist Edward Beaty, Ph.D.;
(2) in discounting plaintiff's credibility;
(3) in assessing plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(4) in finding plaintiff could perform other jobs existing in
significant numbers in the national economy.
reasons set forth below, the Court agrees the ALJ erred in
rejecting the opinion evidence from Dr. Beaty, and thus in
assessing plaintiff's RFC and in finding she could
perform other jobs. The Court, therefore, finds remand for
further administrative proceedings is warranted.
Commissioner's determination that a claimant is not
disabled must be upheld if the “proper legal
standards” have been applied, and the
“substantial evidence in the record as a whole
supports” that determination. Hoffman v.
Heckler, 785 F.2d 1423, 1425 (9th Cir. 1986); see
also Batson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d
1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004); Carr v. Sullivan, 772
F.Supp. 522, 525 (E.D. Wash. 1991). “A decision
supported by substantial evidence nevertheless will be set
aside if the proper legal standards were not applied in
weighing the evidence and making the decision.”
Carr, 772 F.Supp. at 525 (citing Brawner v.
Sec'y of Health and Human Sers., 839 F.2d 432, 433
(9th Cir. 1987)). Substantial evidence is “such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (citation omitted);
see also Batson, 359 F.3d at 1193.
Commissioner's findings will be upheld “if
supported by inferences reasonably drawn from the
record.” Batson, 359 F.3d at 1193. Substantial
evidence requires the Court to determine whether the
Commissioner's determination is “supported by more
than a scintilla of evidence, although less than a
preponderance of the evidence is required.”
Sorenson v. Weinberger, 514 F.2d 1112, 1119 n.10
(9th Cir. 1975). “If the evidence admits of more than
one rational interpretation, ” that decision must be
upheld. Allen v. Heckler, 749 F.2d 577, 579 (9th
Cir. 1984). That is, “[w]here there is conflicting
evidence sufficient to ...