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. 5; Consent to Proceed
Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 6). This matter
has been fully briefed (see Dkt. 11, 19, 20).
suffered from abuse from her mother as a child. Beginning
when plaintiff was nine years old, her mother would give her
methamphetamines in the morning so that she would get up and
do chores, contributing to a subsequent thirty-year addiction
to methamphetamines. Although plaintiff became clean and
sober for at least 17 years, through the date of her
Administrative hearing, she was in special education classes
in school, dropped out of school in the eighth or ninth
grade, and alleges that she has been suffering from
debilitating anxiety and depression.
failed to credit fully plaintiff's testimony, the
opinions of plaintiff's treating mental health counselor,
and the lay statement offered by plaintiff's husband.
Despite the ALJ's implication that some of
plaintiff's husband's reports were inconsistent, this
finding is not based on substantial evidence in the record as
a whole. Plaintiff's husband reported that although
plaintiff did not often do chores, when she did, it would
take her all day to get something done, further noting that
she watched TV all day. Taking all day to get a chore done
and also watching TV all day are not necessarily
inconsistent. Furthermore, although the ALJ found that his
description of plaintiff's difficulties with focus and
concentration is not corroborated by mental status findings,
such is an improper basis for the failure to credit fully lay
this matter is reversed and remanded for further
Administrative proceedings pursuant to sentence four of 42
U.S.C. § 405(g).
WENDY APODAC, was born in 1962 and was 47 years old on the
amended alleged date of disability onset of April 1, 2012.
See AR. 30, 53, 187. Plaintiff has a GED. AR. 62.
Plaintiff has work experience as a cashier, customer service
representative, and floral manager. AR. 206-15.
to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of
“generalized anxiety disorder and depression (20 CFR
404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).” AR. 55.
time of the hearing, plaintiff was living with her husband
and 23 year old son. AR. 6.
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. 70, 71, 94, 95.
Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge Glenn G. Meyers (“the
ALJ”) on October 7, 2014. See AR. 1-43. On
February 27, 2015, the ALJ issued a written decision in which
he concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the
Social Security Act. AR. 50-68.
plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following
issues: (1) Whether the ALJ provided germane reasons for
rejecting the lay testimony (2) Whether the ALJ provided
clear and convincing reasons for rejecting plaintiff's
testimony; and (3) Whether the ALJ provided legally
sufficient reasons for rejecting the opinion of
plaintiff's treating mental health provider, Ms. Jill
Klenota. See Dkt. 11, 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 ...