United States District Court, W.D. Washington
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT
Richard Creatura United States Magistrate Judge
Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c),
Fed.R.Civ.P. 73 and Local Magistrate Judge Rule MJR 13
(see also Notice of Initial Assignment to a U.S.
Magistrate Judge and Consent Form, Dkt. 7; Consent to Proceed
Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 8). This matter
has been fully briefed. See Dkts. 13, 14.
considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes
that the ALJ erred when evaluating the medical opinion from
one of plaintiff's treating physicians. The ALJ appears
to have misinterpreted the record, as the ALJ found that Dr.
Hatcher “did not perform any of the requisite testing
[regarding the diagnosis of fibromyalgia]" AR. 25.
However, Dr. Hatcher's treatment record indicates that
she examined plaintiff and conducted palpation testing which
yielded a positive result for reproduction of alleged
symptoms. See AR. 425. This same treatment record
also reveals that on testing, Dr. Hatcher observed
“significant tenderness to palpitation throughout
posterior musculature with trigger points consistent with
fibromyalgia diagnosis." Id. Therefore, the
ALJ's reliance on a lack of requisite testing is not
based on substantial evidence in the record as a whole.
also relied on a finding that Dr. Hatcher relied more on
plaintiff's subjective reports than on the objective
evidence; however, this finding, too, is not based on
substantial evidence in the record as a whole.
this matter shall be reversed and remanded pursuant to
sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to the Acting
Commissioner for further consideration consistent with this
AUDREY GRACE WARE, was born in 1962 and was 51 years old on
the alleged date of disability onset of September 1, 2013.
See AR. 204-12. Plaintiff completed high school. AR.
36. Plaintiff has work history working in restaurants and
food service. AR. 52-55.
to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of
“osteoarthrosis; asthma; sleep-related disorder;
obesity; affective disorder; anxiety disorder; [and]
substance addiction disorder (20 CFR 416.920(c)).” AR.
time of the hearing, plaintiff was living in Section 8
housing. AR. 84.
application for Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
1382(a) (Title XVI) of the Social Security Act was denied
initially and following reconsideration. See AR.
109, 125. Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge Tom L. Morris (“the
ALJ”) on December 30, 2014. See AR. 33-108. On
March 27, 2015, the ALJ issued a written decision in which
the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to
the Social Security Act. See AR. 13-32.
plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following
issues: (1) The ALJ's residual functional capacity
finding is unsupported by substantial evidence and the
product of legal error in that the ALJ failed to provide
specific and legitimate reasons for discounting several
medical opinions; and (2) The ALJ failed to meet his burden
at Step 5 in that his colloquy with the VE failed to account
for plaintiff's medically required cane. See
Dkt. 13, p. 1.
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court may 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.1 ...