United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
KATHLEEN A. KISER, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Defendant.
ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING THE COMMISSIONER'S
DECISION TO DENY BENEFITS
Theresa L. Fricke United States Magistrate Judge
Kathleen A. Kiser has brought this matter for judicial review
of the Commissioner's denial of her applications for
disability insurance and supplemental security income (SSI)
benefits. The parties have consented to have this matter
heard by the undersigned Magistrate Judge. 28 U.S.C. §
636(c), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73; Local Rule MJR
13. Because the ALJ erred in failing to fully consider Ms.
Kiser's Interstitial Cystitis (IC) and in discounting her
credibility, the Court finds that the Commissioner's
decision to deny benefits should be reversed, and that this
matter should be remanded to the Commissioner for further
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
August 29, 2013, Ms. Kiser filed an application for
disability insurance benefits and another one for SSI
benefits, alleging in both applications that she became
disabled beginning June 8, 2013. Dkt. 9, Administrative
Record (AR) 20. Her applications were denied on initial
administrative review and on reconsideration. Id. On
March 10, 2015, a hearing was held before an administrative
law judge (ALJ), at which Ms. Kiser appeared and testified as
did a vocational expert. AR 41-94.
decision dated June 17, 2015, the ALJ found that Ms. Kiser
could perform other jobs existing in significant numbers in
the national economy and therefore that she was not disabled.
AR 20-34. Ms. Kiser's request for review was denied by
the Appeals Council on October 21, 2016, making the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner, which
plaintiff then appealed in a complaint filed with this Court
on November 30, 2016. AR 1; Dkt. 3; 20 C.F.R. § 404.981,
Kiser seeks reversal of the ALJ's decision and remand for
further administrative proceedings, arguing the ALJ erred in
(1) fully consider Ms. Kiser's IC and the combined
effects of her impairments and resulting limitations;
(2) provide clear and convincing reasons for discounting Ms.
Kiser's credibility; and
(3) properly assess the medical opinion evidence in the
reasons set forth below, the Court finds that the ALJ erred
in failing to fully consider Ms. Kiser's IC and in
discounting her credibility, and therefore in finding her to
be disabled. Remand for further consideration of those issues
is thus warranted.
Commissioner's determination that a claimant is not
disabled must be upheld if the “proper legal
standards” have been applied, and the
“substantial evidence in the record as a whole
supports” that determination. Hoffman v.
Heckler, 785 F.2d 1423, 1425 (9th Cir. 1986); see
also Batson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d
1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004); Carr v. Sullivan, 772
F.Supp. 522, 525 (E.D. Wash. 1991). “A decision
supported by substantial evidence nevertheless will be set
aside if the proper legal standards were not applied in
weighing the evidence and making the decision.”
Carr, 772 F.Supp. at 525 (citing Brawner v.
Sec'y of Health and Human Sers., 839 F.2d 432, 433
(9th Cir. 1987)). Substantial evidence is “such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (citation omitted);
see also Batson, 359 F.3d at 1193.
Commissioner's findings will be upheld “if
supported by inferences reasonably drawn from the
record.” Batson, 359 F.3d at 1193. Substantial
evidence requires the Court to determine whether the
Commissioner's determination is “supported by more
than a scintilla of evidence, although less than a
preponderance of the evidence is required.”
Sorenson v. Weinberger, 514 F.2d 1112, 1119 n.10
(9th Cir. 1975). “If the evidence admits of more than
one rational interpretation, ” that decision must be
upheld. Allen v. Heckler, 749 F.2d 577, 579 (9th
Cir. 1984). That is, “[w]here there is conflicting
evidence sufficient to support either outcome, ” the
Court “must affirm the decision actually made.”
Allen, 749 F.2d at 579 (quoting Rhinehart v.
Finch, 438 F.2d 920, 921 (9th Cir. 1971)).
The ALJ's Evaluation of Ms. Kiser's ...