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Hoyer v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

November 13, 2017

CYNTHIA LOUISE HOYER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER

          The Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Cynthia Louise Hoyer seeks review of the Commissioner's denial of her application for Supplemental Security Income. She contends the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) erred by discounting certain opinion evidence and her subjective testimony. Dkt. 10. As discussed below, the Court REVERSES the Commissioner's final decision and REMANDS for additional administrative proceedings.

         BACKGROUND

         Ms. Hoyer is currently 53 years old, has a high school diploma, and previously worked as housekeeper and sandwich maker. Tr. 64-66, 236. In September 2013, she applied for benefits, alleging disability as of August 1, 2008.[1] Tr. 210-15. Her application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 140-48, 152-56. The ALJ conducted a hearing on March 25, 2015 (Tr. 58-79), and subsequently found Ms. Hoyer not disabled. Tr. 10-23. As the Appeals Council denied Ms. Hoyer's request for review, the ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's final decision. Tr. 1-4.

         THE ALJ'S DECISION

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [2] the ALJ found:

Step one: Ms. Hoyer did not engage in substantial gainful activity after she applied for benefits.
Step two: Ms. Hoyer's degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and substance abuse are severe impairments.
Step three: These impairments do not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[3]
Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”): Ms. Hoyer can perform less than a full range of light work, with the following additional limitations: she can perform simple, routine tasks with short, simple instructions. She can do work that requires little or no judgment. She can perform simple duties that can be learned on the job in less than 30 days. She can respond appropriately to supervision and co-workers, and deal with occasional changes in the work environment. She can do work that requires only occasional exposure to or interaction with the public.
Step four: Ms. Hoyer can perform her past work as a housekeeper, and is therefore not disabled.

         Tr. 10-23.

         DISCUSSION

         Subjective ...


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