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Coates v. Berryhill

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

February 8, 2017

FAITH COATES, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, [1] Defendant.

          ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING DEFENDANT'S DECISION TO DENY BENEFITS

          ROBERT J. BRYAN United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Faith Coates seeks review of the denial of her applications for disability insurance and supplemental security income (“SSI”) benefits. Plaintiff contends that the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) erred by failing to develop the record, in evaluating the medical evidence, and in assessing her residual functional capacity (“RFC”). Dkt. 9 at 1. As discussed below, the Court REVERSES Defendant Commissioner Nancy A. Berryhill's (“the Commissioner”) final decision and REMANDS the case for further administrative proceedings.

         BACKGROUND

         On October 4, 2012, plaintiff protectively filed applications for disability insurance and SSI benefits, alleging disability as of December 31, 2008. Dkt. 7, Administrative Record (“AR”) 18. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Id. After the ALJ conducted a hearing on July 31, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision finding plaintiff not disabled. AR 18-28.

         THE ALJ'S DECISION

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [2] the ALJ found:

Step one: Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 31, 2008, the alleged onset date.
Step two: Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: obesity, degenerative disc disease, affective disorder, and borderline intellectual functioning.
Step three: Plaintiff's impairments do not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[3]
RFC: Plaintiff has the ability to perform sedentary work except she can climb ramps and stairs occasionally, but never scaffolding, ropes, or ladders. She can occasionally stoop and never kneel, crouch, or crawl. She is able to perform unskilled, simple, routine work tasks with customary breaks and lunch. She can have frequent contact with coworkers, but primary work tasks should require no more than occasional collaborative work tasks. She cannot perform production-rate work. She needs one additional break of customary duration.
Step four: Plaintiff is unable to perform any past relevant work.
Step five: As there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff can perform, plaintiff has not disabled from December 31, 2008, through the date of the decision.

See AR 18-28. The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final ...


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