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Newcomb v. Colvin

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

March 22, 2017

MICHAEL R. NEWCOMB, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, [1]Defendant.

          ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING CASE FOR FURTHER ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

          JOHN C. COUGHENOUR United States District Judge

         Michael R. Newcomb seeks review of the denial of his application for Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits. Mr. Newcomb contends the ALJ erred in evaluating the medical opinions of Thomas Clifford, Ph.D., Rita Flanagan, Ph.D., Deven Karvelas, M.D. and Brian Iuliano, M.D. Dkt. 7. Mr. Newcomb also argues the ALJ erred in failing to make reviewable findings with respect to his ability to hold the sitting and standing positions. Id. Mr. Newcomb contends these errors resulted in a residual functional capacity determination (RFC) that failed to account for all of his limitations. Id. Mr. Newcomb contends this matter should be remanded for payment of benefits or, alternatively, for further administrative proceedings. Id. at 2. As discussed below, the Court REVERSES the Commissioner's final decision and REMANDS the matter for further administrative proceedings under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         BACKGROUND

         On September 18, 2012, Mr. Newcomb filed a Title II application for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits. Tr. 11, 210-13. On September 12, 2012, Mr. Newcomb filed a Title XVI application for Supplemental Security Income. Tr. 11, 214-22. Both applications allege disability commencing on July 14, 2012. Tr. 11, 210-22. Mr. Newcomb's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 11, 86-133, 141-63. After the ALJ conducted a hearing on May 13, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision finding Mr. Newcomb not disabled. Tr. 11-26.

         THE ALJ'S DECISION

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

Step one: Mr. Newcomb has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 14, 2012, the alleged onset date.
Step two: Mr. Newcomb has the following severe impairments: spinal degenerative disc disease (DDD) status post-fusion and obesity.
Step three: These impairments do not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[3]
Residual Functional Capacity: Mr. Newcomb can perform medium work, as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c), that does not require lifting more than 50 pounds occasionally or more than 20 pounds frequently; that does not require more than frequent balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, or climbing of ramps or stairs; that does not require more than occasional crawling or climbing of ladders, ropes or scaffolds; that does not require more than occasional overhead reaching; and that does not require exposure to hazards such as open machinery or unprotected heights.
Step four: Mr. Newcomb can perform past relevant work as a medical receptionist.
Step five: Alternatively, as there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Mr. Newcomb can perform, he is not disabled.

Tr. 11-26. The Appeals Council denied Mr. Newcomb's request for review making the ALJ's decision the ...


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