Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Robinson v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

November 21, 2017

DENNIS J. ROBINSON, 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. 6). This matter has been fully briefed. See Dkt. 13, 17, 18.

         The ALJ found that plaintiff is disabled when his substance use disorders are considered. AR. 20. However, the ALJ also found that plaintiff “would not be disabled if he stopped the substance use, ” and hence, plaintiff is not “disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act.” AR. 26.

         The Social Security Act prohibits the award of disability benefits when drug addiction and/or alcoholism is a contributing factor material to the determination of disability. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 423 (d)(2)(C), 1382c(a)(3)(J); Sousa v. Callahan, 143 F.3d 1240, 1245 (9th Cir. 1998).

         After considering and reviewing the record, although the ALJ used the correct standard when reviewing plaintiff's claimed disability, the ALJ erred by failing to discuss the significant, probative evidence provided by a reviewing doctor. The reviewing doctor, Dr. Phyllis N. Sanchez, Ph.D., issued opinions directly relevant to the important findings providing the basis for the ALJ's ultimate decision regarding disability in this matter, including whether plaintiff would be disabled if he stopped the substance use.

         Therefore, 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, DENNIS J. ROBINSON, was born in 1985 and was 27 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of March 21, 2013. See AR. 211-17, 218-24. Plaintiff completed high school. AR. 52. Plaintiff has some work history as a food warehouse stocker, in telecommunications and in customer service. AR. 279-90. He was let go from his last job for tardiness. AR. 42-43 According to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of “schizoaffective disorder, bipolar affective disorder, poly substance abuse and antisocial personality disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).” AR. 15 At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was living in a house with his grandmother, aunt and cousin. AR. 38.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff's applications for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423 (Title II) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a) (Title XVI) of the Social Security Act were denied initially and following reconsideration. See AR. 90, 91, 112, 113. Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Robert P. Kingsley (“the ALJ”) on November 26, 2014. See AR. 32-66. On May 21, 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. 9-31.

         In plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issues: (1) Whether the ALJ properly evaluated the medical evidence; (2) Whether the ALJ properly evaluated plaintiff's testimony; (3) Whether the ALJ properly evaluated the lay evidence; (4) Whether the ALJ properly assessed plaintiff's residual functional capacity (“RFC”) in the absence of substance abuse (“DAA”) and erred by basing the step four and five findings on his erroneous RFC assessment; and (5) Whether the ALJ erred by improperly concluding that plaintiff's DAA was a factor material to his disability. See Dkt. 13, p. 2.

         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 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.