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. 5; Consent to Proceed
Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 6). This matter
has been fully briefed. See Dkt. 11, 16, 17.
diagnosed by one of plaintiff's examining doctors,
plaintiff has post-traumatic stress disorder
(“PTSD”). AR. 1012. According to the record from
this examining psychologist, Dr. Richard Coder, Ph.D.,
plaintiff's history includes being “an eyewitness
of the 9-11 terrorist attack [as he] was on the ground floor
of the first building as it began to topple.” AR. 1009.
Plaintiff witnessed people jumping from the windows and
falling to the ground, and “watched the plane fly over
the Hudson, turning back and forth until it flew in the
second tower.” Id. He lost neighbors and crew
on flight 93. Id. Plaintiff did not seek treatment
until August 2003 when he had a panic attack and could not
breathe, and in September, 2007, he was asked to speak at a
media event as a survivor of 9-11, which sent him into a
downward spiral. Id. Although Dr. Coder opined that
plaintiff would need routine breaks during the day and
routine time off every week or two, such as long weekends,
with “some real hand holding to help him deal with the
usual stress encountered in competitive work ___ ” (AR.
1013-14), the Administrative Law Judge (“the
ALJ”) gave only little weight to this opinion. AR. 23.
considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes
that the ALJ erred when failing to credit fully the medical
opinion from plaintiff's examining psychologist, Dr.
Coder. For example, although the ALJ relied on alleged
inconsistencies with plaintiff's testimony, the ALJ
failed to explain how plaintiff's ability to perform
personal care, prepare his own meals and assist his parents
contradicted Dr. Coder's opinion that he would need
routine breaks during the day and routine time off every week
or two. In addition, Dr. Coder was aware of plaintiff's
history of substance abuse, and thus, this rationale does not
provide a valid basis for failing to credit fully Dr.
for the reason stated and based on the record as a whole,
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
DAVID PENNINGTON, was born in 1962 and was 44 years old on
the alleged date of disability onset of January 1, 2007.
See AR. 535-36, 539-45. Plaintiff completed high
school and several years of college. AR. 192. He has work
history as an integration specialist/manager, business
services manager, software manufacturer sales engineer,
business services senior manager/executive, and management
consulting senior program manager/executive. AR. 727- 39.
to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of
“major depressive disorder; generalized anxiety
disorder with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD); cocaine
and opioid abuse in remission (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and
416.920(c)).” AR. 15.
time of the latest hearing, plaintiff was staying with a
friend and his parents. AR. 193-94.
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. 12. Plaintiff provides the
following procedural background.
A hearing was held, followed by an unfavorable decision by
ALJ Laura Valente on April 23, 2010 (AR. 232-60). The Appeals
Council remanded the case, after which two more hearings were
held (one where the claimant testified and another where a
medical expert testified), followed by another unfavorable
ALJ decision by Judge Valente dated May 30, 2013 (AR 262-67,
294-330). The Appeals Council again remanded the case, after
which yet another hearing was held, followed by a third
unfavorable decision issued by a different ALJ . . . (AR.
Plaintiff's Opening Brief, Dkt. 11, p. 2.
latest hearing was held before ALJ Kimberly Boyce on June 17,
2015. See AR. 185-227. On December 22, 2015, the ALJ
issued a written decision in which the ALJ concluded that
plaintiff was ...