United States District Court, W.D. Washington
MARK C. ZINK, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
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. 14, 15, 16.
considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes the
case should be reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
Examining psychologist, Dr. David Widlan, PhD, opined that
plaintiff's mental impairments would persist following 60
days of sobriety, and were not primarily the result of
alcohol or drug use. AR. 461. Despite this, the ALJ found
plaintiff not disabled because, according to the ALJ,
plaintiff would not have been disabled if he had not
continued to abuse alcohol and/or drugs. The ALJ committed
legal error by failing to address, in substantial part, the
opinion of examining psychologist Dr.Widlan. Because this is
not harmless error, this matter must be remanded for further
proceedings consistent with this order.
MARK C. ZINK, was born in 1968 and was 44 years old on the
alleged date of disability onset of August 1, 2012.
See AR. 260-66, 267-84. Plaintiff has a high school
diploma and has taken some college courses. AR. 56. Plaintiff
has work history as a laborer in the construction field. AR.
313-19. He last worked doing temporary labor jobs. AR. 63-67.
to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of
“Chronic foot dysfunction due to frostbite damage;
tremor; lumbar degenerative disc disease; depressive
disorder; substance abuse (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and
416.920(c)).” AR. 31.
time of the hearing, plaintiff was living with his parents.
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. 95-109, 110-24, 127-42,
143-59. Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge Mary Gallagher Dilley (“the
ALJ”) on November 20, 2014. See AR. 50-92. On
January 29, 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. 25-49.
plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following
issues: (1) Whether or not the ALJ properly evaluated the
opinions of David Widlan, PhD; and (2) Whether or not the ALJ
properly evaluated the opinions of Scott Schroeder, DPM.
See Dkt. 14, 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 (9th Cir. 2005)
(citing Tidwell v. Apfel, 161 F.3d 599, 601 (9th
Whether or not the ALJ properly evaluated the opinions ...