United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER ON SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
McDade seeks review of the denial of her application for
Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Ms. McDade contends the
administrative law judge (ALJ) erred in evaluating: (1) the
medical opinion evidence; (2) her own symptom testimony; and
(3) the lay witness evidence. Dkt. 9 at 1. As discussed
below, the Court REVERSES the
Commissioner's final decision and
REMANDS the matter for further
administrative proceedings under sentence four of 42 U.S.C.
September 30, 2013, Ms. McDade applied for benefits, alleging
disability as of January 1, 2011. Tr. 22, 165-70. Ms.
McDade's application was denied initially and on
reconsideration. Tr. 22, 65-109. The ALJ conducted a hearing
on April 15, 2015, at which time, based on the ALJ's
inquiry, Ms. McDade amended the alleged onset date to the
application filing date of September 30, 2013. Tr. 26, 63. On
June 22, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding Ms. McDade
not disabled. Tr. 22-33.
THE ALJ'S DECISION
the five-step disability evaluation process,  the ALJ found:
Step one: Ms. McDade has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since September 30, 2013, the
amended alleged onset date and application date.
Step two: Ms. McDade has the following
severe impairments: status post lymphoma, degenerative disc
disease, asthma, fibromyalgia, migraine, obesity, depressive
disorder, and substance abuse.
Step three: These impairments do not meet or
equal the requirements of a listed impairment.
Residual Functional Capacity (RFC): Ms.
McDade can perform light work with additional limitations.
She can lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds
frequently, stand and walk about 6 hours in an 8-hour
workday, and sit about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. She
retains the mental capability to adequately perform the
mental activities generally required by competitive,
remunerative work: she can perform simple, routine tasks and
follow short, simple instructions, do work that needs little
or no judgment, perform simple duties that can be learned on
the job in a short period of less than thirty days, respond
appropriately to supervision and coworkers, and deal with
occasional changes in the work environment. She has no
difficulty dealing with the public.
Step four: Ms. McDade cannot perform past
Step five: As there are jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that Ms. McDade
can perform, including office helper, electronics accessory
assembler, and housekeeper, she is not disabled.
Tr. 22-33. The Appeals Council denied Ms. McDade's
request for review making the ALJ's decision the
Commissioner's final decision. Tr. 1-9.
Court may reverse an ALJ's decision only if it is not
supported by substantial evidence or if the ALJ applied the
wrong legal standard. See Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d
1104, 1110 (9th Cir. 2012). Even then, the Court will reverse
the ALJ's decision only if the claimant demonstrates that
the ALJ's error was harmful. Id.
must provide “clear and convincing reasons” to
reject the uncontradicted opinion of a treating or examining
doctor. Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 830 (9th Cir.
1996). When contradicted, a treating or examining
doctor's opinion may not be rejected without
“specific and legitimate reasons” that are
supported by substantial evidence in the record. Id.
Generally, the opinions of treating doctors are entitled to
greater weight than the opinions of examining doctors and the
opinions of examining doctors are entitled to greater weight
than the opinions of non-examining doctors. See Garrison
v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1012 (9th Cir. 2014).
John Yuen, M.D.
Yuen, Ms. McDade's treating doctor, submitted a medical
source statement in March 2015. Tr. 1162-67. Dr. Yuen opined
that Ms. McDade: could lift and carry up to only 10 pounds
occasionally; could sit for 1 hour, stand for 30 minutes and
walk for 30 minutes at one time without interruption; could
sit for 2 hours, stand for 1 hour and walk for 1 hour total
in an 8 hour workday; could reach, handle, finger, feel, push
and pull occasionally; occasionally operate foot controls;
occasionally climb stairs and ramps, balance, stoop, kneel,
crouch but never climb ladders and scaffolds or crawl; could
occasionally drive; should never be exposed to unprotected
heights, moving mechanical parts, humidity and wetness, dust,
odors, fumes and pulmonary irritants, extreme heat or cold,
or vibrations; and should be limited to a quiet ...