United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
FRANK M. CAMACHO, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, 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 his 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
14, 2013, plaintiff filed an application for SSI benefits,
alleging he became disabled beginning January 1, 2004. Dkt.
9, Administrative Record (AR), 20. That application was
denied on initial administrative review and on
reconsideration. Id. At a hearing held before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), plaintiff, represented by
counsel, appeared and testified, as did a vocational expert.
AR 38-81. Also at the hearing, plaintiff amended his alleged
onset date of disability to May 14, 2013. AR 20.
written decision dated March 6, 2015, the ALJ found that
plaintiff could perform both his past relevant work and other
jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy,
and therefore that he was not disabled. AR 20-33. On June 15,
2016, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for
review of the ALJ's decision, making that decision the
final decision of the Commissioner, which plaintiff then
appealed in a complaint with this Court on August 2, 2016. AR
1; Dkt. 1-3; 20 C.F.R. § 416.1481.
seeks reversal of the ALJ's decision and remand for
further administrative proceedings, arguing the ALJ erred:
(1) in evaluating the medical opinion evidence from William
Wilkinson, Ed.D., Jan Lewis, Ph.D., and Eugen Kester, M.D.;
(2) in assessing plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(3) 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
evaluating the medical opinion evidence from Drs. Lewis and
Kester, and therefore in assessing plaintiff's RFC and in
finding he could perform other jobs existing in significant
numbers in the national economy. Remand for further
administrative proceedings is thus 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 support either outcome, ” the
Court “must affirm the decision actually made.”
Allen, 749 F.2d at 579 (quoting Rhinehart v.
Finch, 438 F.2d 920, 921 (9th Cir. 1971)).
The ALJ's Evaluation of the Medical ...