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Bradford v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

November 2, 2017

ROBERT BRADFORD, JR., 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. 7). This matter has been fully briefed. See Dkts. 11, 12, 13.

         After considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes that the ALJ erred when he failed to consider properly plaintiff's severe impairments of chronic pain and diabetes at Step Two. The ALJ also erred in his assessment of plaintiff's testimony when formulating the residual functional capacity (“RFC”). Had the ALJ properly considered plaintiff's severe impairments at Step Two and properly incorporated them into his assessment of the RFC, the RFC may have included additional limitations.

         Because these errors are 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, ROBERT BRADFORD, JR., was born in 1962 and was 44 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of April 12, 2006. See AR. 232-40. Plaintiff completed the tenth grade and has not obtained his GED. AR. 62. Plaintiff has some work experience as a janitor, clay mixer, kitchen worker and produce stock/floor worker. AR. 270-81.

         According to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of “degenerative disc disease, trochanteric bursitis, status post femur fracture (with open reduction and internal fixation), depressive disorder, and mild degenerative joint disease of the knee (20 CFR 416.920(c)).” AR. 40.

         At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was living with his fiancée. AR. 62.

         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. 92, 105. Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge S. Andrew Grace (“the ALJ”) on February 5, 2014. See AR. 53-91. On March 6, 2014, the ALJ issued a written decision in which the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the Social Security Act. See AR. 35-52.

         In plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issues: (1) Did the ALJ err in determining that a job plaintiff did in the past, that of office helper, actually qualifies as past relevant work; (2) Is the job of office helper beyond the abilities of an individual who is limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks consistent with unskilled work; (3) Did the ALJ err at step 5 by identifying the job of laundry worker as within the ability of the claimant when it is a semi-skilled job, beyond the ability of a person limited to unskilled jobs; and (4) Did the ALJ err by failing to take into consideration the functional limitations caused by the fact that plaintiff is an insulin dependent diabetic and has other significant medical problems that restricts his physical abilities to less than the light exertional level. 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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