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Mucke v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

October 18, 2017

AEVIN MUCKE, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

          J. RICHARD CREATURA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This 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, 12, 13.

         After considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes that the ALJ erred when she discounted the medical opinions of Dr. Anselm Parlatore. The ALJ failed to provide specific and legitimate reasons supported by substantial evidence when she discounted Dr. Parlatore's opinions as (1) unsupported by clinical findings; (2) based on plaintiff's subjective complaints and incompatible with plaintiff's activities of daily living; and (3) unsupported by the longitudinal record. Contrary to the ALJ's determination, the record demonstrates that Dr. Parlatore's opinions were supported by clinical findings, interviews, testing, and mental status examinations. Moreover, the ALJ's determination is unsupported by the record as a whole. Had the ALJ properly considered Dr. Parlatore's opinions, the residual functional capacity may have included additional limitations.

         Because this error is not harmless, this matter is reversed pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and remanded to the Acting Commissioner for further consideration consistent with this order.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, AEVIN MUCKE, was born in 1986 and was 16 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of August 1, 2002. See AR. 212-17. Plaintiff completed the 11thgrade in high school and obtained his GED his senior year. AR. 50. Plaintiff has some work history at a fast food restaurant and a relative's pet shop. AR. 53. Plaintiff's last employment was as a produce clerk, but he quit after a few weeks because of anxiety. AR. 52-53.

         According to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of “learning disorder, attention deficit disorder and/or other organic mental disorder, anxiety disorder, affective disorder, and autism spectrum disorder (20 CFR 416.920(c)).” AR. 25.

         At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was living with his parents on their farm. AR. 48.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff's 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. 95, 107. Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Cheri L. Filion (“the ALJ”) on September 21, 2015. See AR. 43-94. On December 17, 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. 20-42.

         In plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issues: (1) Whether the ALJ provided legally sufficient reasons for rejecting the opinions of an examining psychiatrist; and (2) Whether the ALJ provided germane reasons for rejecting the lay testimony. See Dkt. 11, p. 1.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant 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 ...


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