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Yi v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

June 19, 2017

SOON AE YI, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

          J. Richard Creatura United States Magistrate Judge.

         This 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. 5; Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 6). This matter has been fully briefed (see Dkt. 11, 16, 17).

         Plaintiff suffers from the single severe impairment of affective disorder, a finding not challenged by plaintiff. An examining doctor indicated that plaintiff's depressive symptoms resulted from the situational stressor of being left by her husband for another woman, an especially embarrassing situation for cultural Koreans. Plaintiff contends that the ALJ erred by failing to credit fully the opinions from this doctor regarding plaintiff's limitations. However, in order for limitations to be “disabling” as defined by the Social Security Act, they must result from medical impairments, not from situational stressors.

         Therefore, for this as well as other discussed reasons, and based on consideration and review of the record as a whole, the Court concludes that the ALJ did not commit any harmful legal error when evaluating plaintiff's application for social security benefits.

         The ALJ's decision is affirmed.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, SOON AE YI, was born in 1953 and was 56 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of May 31, 2010. See AR. 191-92, 194-203. Plaintiff graduated from high school in Korea. AR. 35. Plaintiff has work history in their family businesses, including a deli store, grocery store and restaurant. AR. 36. She was last employed as a caretaker. AR. 36.

         According to the ALJ, plaintiff has the severe impairment of “Affective disorder (20CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).” AR. 16.

         At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was living with her son and daughter-in-law. AR. 45.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff's applications for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423 (Title II) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a) (Title XVI) of the Social Security Act were denied initially and following reconsideration. See AR. 69, 70, 95, 96. Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Virginia M. Robinson (“the ALJ”) on August 8, 2014. See AR. 29-68. On January 27, 2015, the ALJ issued a written decision in which she concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the Social Security Act. AR. 11-28.

         In plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issues: (1) Whether the ALJ erred in failing to consider properly the opinions of the examining provider in the record and in failing to provide adequate explanation for not according those opinions more weight; (2) Whether the ALJ erred in finding that the plaintiff could perform work that allowed incidental contact with the public; (3) Whether the ALJ erred in failing to provide legitimate reasons supported by the record for her finding on credibility; and (4) Whether the ALJ erred in failing to order a consultative examination and in failing to explain why she did not order a consultative examination. See Dkt. 11, p. 2.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant 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 ...


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