United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
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. 4; Consent to Proceed
Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 5). This matter
has been fully briefed. See Dkt. 10, 11, 12.
provided a relatively thorough summary of the medical
evidence connected with plaintiff's Social Security
application. However, the ALJ failed to take note of or
discuss plaintiff's obesity. The relevant Social Security
Rulings require ALJs to consider claimants' obesity when
determining claimants' severe impairments and
claimants' limitations, and for the remaining steps of
the sequential disability evaluation procedure. After
considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes
that the ALJ's error in failing to do so is not harmless,
as consideration of plaintiff's obesity could alter
plaintiff's residual functional capacity such that she
would be found disabled.
this matter is reversed and remanded pursuant to sentence
four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to the Acting Commissioner
for further consideration consistent with this order.
LETICIA ERMEY, was born in 1991. See AR. 190-99. She
has a high school diploma. AR. 49. Plaintiff last worked at a
fast food restaurant but quit when “it started being
painful to work there.” AR. 49-50.
to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of
“right hip dysplasia; depression, [and] learning
disorder for math, reading, expressive language, and written
expression (20 CFR 416.920(c)).” AR. 21.
time of the hearing, plaintiff was living in a friend's
house with “maybe about seven people.” AR. 47-48.
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. 85,
100. Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge Cynthia D. Rosa (“the
ALJ”) on September 24, 2014. See AR. 41-84. On
February 27, 2015, the ALJ issued a written decision in which
the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to
the Social Security Act since her application date.
See AR. 16-40.
plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following
issues: (1) Did the ALJ reversibly err by failing to consider
plaintiff's obesity; (2) Did the ALJ reversibly err by
failing to properly evaluate the testimony evidence; and (3)
Did the ALJ reversibly err by improperly discrediting
plaintiff without providing sufficient reasons to do so.
See Dkt. 10, p. 2.
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 ...