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. 3; Consent to Proceed
Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 5). This matter
has been fully briefed. See Dkt. 9, 10, 11.
considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes
that the ALJ erred when failing to credit fully the medical
opinion from plaintiff's long-term treating physician.
For example, although the ALJ relied on the primary care
physician's lack of specialty, this is not a valid basis
for failing to credit fully a medical opinion, especially
from a treating physician. Similarly, although the ALJ relied
on the fact that the physician's opinion was issued a few
years before the ALJ's written decision, the opinion
nevertheless was offered during the relevant period of time,
after plaintiff's alleged date of disability onset.
Therefore, this rationale, too, does not provide a valid
basis for failing to credit fully the medical opinion of
plaintiff's treating physician, Dr. Vandermeer.
for the reason stated and based on the record as a whole, the
Court concludes that this matter is reversed and remanded
pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for
further administrative proceedings consistent with this
AMY WALKER HALE, was born in 1972 and was 39 years old on the
alleged date of disability onset of July 20, 2012.
See AR. 354-55. Plaintiff graduated from high school
(AR. 31) and completed a 2-year degree in college with
accommodation (AR. 104-10). Plaintiff has experience doing
general office work, janitorial work and packaging parts. AR.
54-55. Plaintiff left her employment when she was physically
unable to do the job. AR. 56.
to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of
“degenerative disc disease; headaches; [and]
Raynaud's syndrome (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).” AR. 25.
time of the hearing, plaintiff was living with her husband in
their home. AR. 56.
application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423 (Title
II) was denied initially and following reconsideration.
See AR. 143, 156. Plaintiff's requested hearing
was held before Administrative Law Judge Laura Valente
(“the ALJ”) on May 23, 2013. See AR.
41-93. On September 26, 2013, the ALJ issued a written
decision in which the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not
disabled pursuant to the Social Security Act. See
AR. 169-89. The Appeals Council remanded the case to the ALJ
on May 4, 2015. See AR. 190-94. Plaintiff's
second hearing before the ALJ was held on May 10, 2016 (AR.
94-142) and on August 10, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision in
which she again concluded that plaintiff was not disabled
pursuant to the Social Security Act. See AR. 19-40.
plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following
issues: (1) Whether the ALJ provided legally sufficient
reasons for rejecting three medical source opinions; (2)
whether the ALJ provided clear and convincing reasons for
rejecting plaintiff's testimony; and (3) whether remand
for a finding of disability is the proper remedy in this
case. See Dkt. 9, p. 1.
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 ...