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. 5; Consent to Proceed
Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 8). This matter
has been fully briefed. See Dkts. 17, 21, 22.
considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes
that the Social Security Administration (“SSA” or
“Agency”) erred by failing to follow the
Court's prior Order to obtain further review of
plaintiff's records by internal medical experts. As a
result, the record is incomplete, and the Court cannot
determine whether the ALJ's decision at Step Three is
supported by substantial evidence. In addition, the ALJ
failed to fully analyze and develop the record regarding (1)
whether plaintiff's IQ score supports subaverage
intellectual functioning prior to the age of 22; or (2)
whether the record supports a finding that plaintiff had
deficits in adaptive functioning initially manifested before
the age of 22.
this error is not harmless, this matter should be 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.
JOEL SMITH, was born in 1956 and was 49 years old on the
alleged date of disability onset of January 1, 2005.
See AR. 207-08, 209-14. Plaintiff quit school in the
seventh or tenth grade and later started training for welding
with Jobs Corp, but did not finish. AR. 553-54. Plaintiff has
some experience packing auto parts and doing landscaping and
janitorial work. AR 556-58.
to the ALJ, as of the latest hearing, plaintiff has at least
the severe impairments of “cervical and lumbar spine
degenerative disc disease, hepatitis, major depressive
disorder versus mood disorder not otherwise specified (NOS)
versus alcohol induced mood disorder, anxiety versus
posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline intellectual
functioning, and alcohol abuse (20 CFR 416.920(c)).”
time of the hearing, plaintiff was living in an apartment.
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. 82, 83, 98, 99.
Plaintiff's first hearing (AR. 34-73) resulted in a
decision that he was not disabled (AR. 9-33). Plaintiff
appealed and the Court remanded for further administrative
proceedings (AR. 631-43). Plaintiff's second hearing was
again held before Administrative Law Judge Larry Kennedy
(“the ALJ”) on June 1, 2015. See AR.
544-93. On June 17, 2016, the ALJ issued a written decision
in which the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not disabled
pursuant to the Social Security Act. AR. 515-43.
plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following
issues: (1) While the ALJ found that plaintiff has an IQ of
70 and additional severe impairments, two key elements of
Listing 12.05(C), he failed to correctly analyze
plaintiff's deficits of adaptive functioning that
manifested before the age of 22; (2) The recent change in
Listing 12.00 has no bearing here; and (3) Remand for a
finding of disability and calculation of benefits is
appropriate here. See Dkt. 17, 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 ...