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Shinn v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

November 15, 2017

JENNIFER JUNE SHINN, 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. 4; Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 5). 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 evaluating the medical evidence by, in part, failing to discuss significant probative evidence of the examination and evaluation of plaintiff by an examining physician. The ALJ noted one sentence about depression from the report of examining physician, Dr. Singh, but completely failed to discuss the pages of information regarding plaintiff's physical impairments within Dr. Singh's report, which were the reasons for his examination.

         Therefore, for this and for other reasons discussed herein, this matter is reversed and remanded pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to the Acting Commissioner for further consideration consistent with this order.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, JENNIFER JUNE SHINN, was born in 1972 and was 38 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of June 3, 2011. See AR. 160-61. Plaintiff graduated from high school and has some college credits. AR. 42. Plaintiff has work history as a grocery checker and dental assistant. AR. 200-11.

         According to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairment of “cervical spine disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).” AR. 19.

         At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was living with her husband and two teenage daughters in the family home. AR. 42.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff's application for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423 (Title II) of the Social Security Act was denied initially and following reconsideration. See AR. 17. Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Kimberly Boyce (“the ALJ”) on May 20, 2015. See AR. 35-67. On July 27, 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. 14-34.

         In plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issues: (1) Did the ALJ err by rejecting the generally consistent opinions from plaintiff's treating primary care physician, treating neurosurgeon and treating physical therapist, as well as ignoring the opinion of the treating psychiatrist and failing to find her mental impairments “severe”; and (2) Did the ALJ cite “clear and convincing” reasons supported by substantial evidence to reject plaintiff's statements and 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 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing Tidwell v. Apfel, 161 F.3d 599, 601 (9th Cir. 1999)).

         DISCUSSION

         (1) Did the ALJ err by rejecting the generally consistent opinions from plaintiff's treating primary care physician, treating neurosurgeon and treating physical therapist, as well as ignoring the opinion of the treating psychiatrist and failing to find her mental impairments “severe”?

         Plaintiff presents numerous challenges to the ALJ's review of the medical evidence. Although the Court will not discuss all of these, the Court finds persuasive numerous of plaintiff's argument regarding errors in the evaluation of the medical evidence. For example, the ALJ erred when evaluating the opinions of two of plaintiff's treating physicians, erred by failing to consider the medical opinion of an ...


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