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Bowman v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

February 7, 2017

AMY BOWMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1]Defendant.

          ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

          JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Amy Bowman seeks review of the denial of her application for disability insurance benefits. Ms. Bowman contends that the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") erred in evaluating the medical evidence, evaluating Ms. Bowman's testimony, assessing her residual functional capacity ("RFC"), and finding her capable of performing work available in the national economy. (Op. Br. (Dkt. # 9) at 1-2.) Having considered the submissions of the parties, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law, the court REVERSES Defendant Commissioner Nancy A. Berryhill's ("the Commissioner") final decision and REMANDS the matter for further administrative proceedings under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         II. BACKGROUND

         On July 31, 2013, Ms. Bowman protectively filed an application for disability insurance benefits. (Administrative Record ("AR") (Dkt. # 7) at 15.) Ms. Bowman's application was denied initially and on reconsideration. (Id.) The ALJ conducted a hearing on January 13, 2015, at which Ms. Bowman alleged an amended disability onset date of May 1, 2013. (Id.) After the hearing, the ALJ issued a decision finding Ms. Bowman not disabled, (Id. at 15-24.)

         The ALJ utilized the five-step disability evaluation process in his decision, [2] and the court summarizes the ALJ's findings as follows:

Step one: Ms. Bowman has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 1, 2013, the amended alleged onset date.
Step two: Ms. Bowman has the following severe impairments: Chiaril malformation, cervical degenerative disc disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, obesity, history of fibromyalgia, history of sleep disorder, history of asthma, and nicotine addiction.
Step three: Ms. Bowman does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or equals the requirements of a listed impairment[3]
RFC: Ms. Bowman can perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(a). She can perform unskilled, repetitive, and routine work. She can have occasional contact with the public, coworkers, and supervisors. She will be off task up to 14 percent of the time but will still meet minimum production requirements of the job. She will be absent from work one time every three months. She can occasionally stoop, squat, crouch, crawl, and kneel. She can occasionally climb ramps and stairs. She can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds.
Step four: Ms. Bowman is unable to perform any past relevant work.
Step five: Because jobs exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Ms. Bowman can perform, she is not disabled.

(See AR at 17-24.) The Appeals Council denied Ms. Bowman's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. (See AR at 1-6.)[4]

         III. ANALYSIS

         Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this court must 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.l (9th Cir. 2005) (citing Tidwell v. Apfel, 161 F.3d 599, 601 (9th Cir. 1999)).

         A. Evaluation of the ...


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