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. 6; Consent to Proceed
Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 7. This matter
has been fully briefed. See Dkt. 14, 15, 16.
has severe systemic lupus erythematosus (“lupus”)
and fibromyalgia. AR. 20. Although there has been some
progress in the understanding of these types of impairments
generally, as noted in a Ninth Circuit opinion,
fibromyalgia's “cause is unknown, there is no cure,
and it is poorly-understood within much of the medical
community.” Benecke v. Barnhart, 379 F.3d 587,
590 (9th Cir. 2004). There are laboratory tests that can help
substantiate the presence of these impairments, such as a
test for positive antinuclear antibodies
(“ANAs”), which plaintiff has. There also are
examination findings that can help demonstrate fibromyalgia,
such as tender points or trigger points, and plaintiff has
demonstrated 18 out of 18 of these. However, here, the ALJ
appears to have relied heavily on a finding of a lack of
objective medical evidence to substantiate the opinion of
plaintiff's treating doctor. In the context of this
particular record, and the lack of sufficienet explanation as
to what additional objective medical evidence should be
present to substantiate the severity of plaintiff's
impairments, this reliance does not sufficiently explain the
failure to credit fully the treating doctor's opinion.
this matter is reversed and remanded pursuant to sentence
four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to the Acting Commissioner
for further consideration.
TAMI BIGELOW, was born in 1962 and was 50 years old on the
alleged date of disability onset of December 13, 2012.
See AR. 343-51, 352-53. Plaintiff has a GED and
attended community college. AR. 60. She has work experience
doing data entry. AR. 68-69. Plaintiff lost her job after she
broke her knee. AR. 62.
to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of
“systemic lupus erythematosus (“lupus”);
fibromyalgia; status-post medial plateau fracture, major
depressive disorder (“MDD”); post-traumatic
stress disorder (“PTSD”); and generalized anxiety
disorder (“GAD”) (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and
416.920(c)).” AR. 20.
time of the hearing, plaintiff was living with her 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. 119, 132, 145, 160.
Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge Ilene Sloan (“the ALJ”)
on December 8, 2014. See AR. 52-94. A supplemental
hearing was held on May 5, 2015. See AR. 95-118. On
July 23, 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. 14-51.
plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following
issues: (1) The ALJ erred in her weighing of the medical
opinion evidence; (2) The ALJ erred in her weighing of the
credibility of plaintiff's allegations; and (3) The ALJ
erred in her consideration of the testimony of Bruce Holmes.
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 ...