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.

Sims v. Berryhill

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

January 31, 2018

HEATHER LIANNE SIMS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER AND DISMISSING THE CASE

          BRIAN A. TSUCHIDA, United States Magistrate Judge

         Heather Lianne Sims appeals the ALJ's decision finding her not disabled. The ALJ found Ms. Sims worked since the alleged onset date, but the work did not rise to the level of substantial gainful activity; that status post remote foot injury/arthritis in the feet, obstructive sleep apnea, degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety, specific phobia, cognitive disorder, and alcohol abuse are severe impairments; Ms. Sims has the Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work, except she can occasionally climb, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl and is limited to unskilled work, incidental public contact and can do work that does not require her to work as part of a team; Ms. Sims cannot perform her past relevant work; and that Ms. Sims can perform other jobs in the national economy and is not disabled. Tr. 15-36. The ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's final decision because the Appeals Council denied Ms. Sims' request for review. Tr. 1-6.

         Ms. Sims contends the ALJ erred by (1) failing to account for all limitations found by consultative examiner Trudy Iredale, Ph.D.; (2) ignoring an opinion of treating doctor Navin Nagaraj, M.D.; (3) discounting or ignoring statements written by her mother; and (4) discounting her own subjective testimony. Dkt. 11 at 1-2. As discussed below, the Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's final decision and DISMISSES the case with prejudice.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Medical Evidence

         1. Trudy Iredale, Ph.D.

         Dr. Iredale examined Ms. Sims in February 2014. Tr. 609-617. In her medical source statement Dr. Iredale opined:

The claimant is a 38 year old female who alleges anxiety, depression, cognitive problems, as well as numerous other medical problems. Her social skills are good and she is likely to have good relationships with co-workers and supervisors. She tends to have some social anxiety and may have difficulty interacting with the public. She is capable of understanding and following simple instructions but will probably have trouble as the complexity of the task increases. She may also need instructions to be repeated many times due to some impairment in delayed recall. Attention and concentration are slightly impaired. There does not appear to be the need for a protective payee at this time.

Tr. 617. The ALJ gave significant weight to Dr. Iredale's opinion. Tr. 22. The ALJ's RFC assessment limits Ms. Sims to performing unskilled work with incidental public contact, and tasks that do not require her to work as part of a team. Tr. 31.

         The Commissioner contends this accounts for limitations Dr. Ireland assessed. Ms. Sims argues the ALJ's RFC erroneously fails to account for Dr. Iredale's opinion Ms. Sims “may also need instructions to be repeated many times due to some impairment in delayed recall.” Dkt. 11 at 4. This opinion must be viewed in the context of the doctor's other opinions. Dr. Iredale also opined Ms. Sims “is capable of understanding and following simple instructions but will probably have trouble as the complexity of the task increases.” Tr. 617. As Ms. Sims can perform tasks involving simple instructions, the Court cannot say the need for repeating instructions applies to that level of work. Dr. Iredale's opinion indicates, as the complexity of work tasks increase, Ms. Sims may have “trouble”; that logically would be the point where Ms. Sims would need additional help such as repetition of instructions. The Court accordingly cannot say the ALJ unreasonably omitted the need for repetition from the RFC determination.

         Here the ALJ's RFC assessment limited Ms. Sims to unskilled work. This is consistent Dr. Iredale's opinion Ms. Sims can understand and follow simple instructions. See Lopez v. Astrue, 2011 WL 3206958, at *8 (N.D. Cal., July 27, 2011) (stating “a limitation to simple, routine, repetitive work is not inconsistent with the ability to perform unskilled work”); Cha Yang v. Astrue, 2010 WL 3768122, *14 (E.D. Cal., Sept.22, 2010) (“the ability to perform simple, repetitive tasks is consistent with unskilled work); and Orucevic v. Astrue, 2008 WL 4621420, *7 (W.D. Wash., Oct.16, 2008) (ALJ did not err in concluding claimant could perform unskilled work because of her limitation to simple, repetitive tasks and noting that the definition of unskilled work). See also Meissl v. Barnhart, 403 F.Supp.2d 981, 983-85 (C.D. Cal. 2005) (reasoning SVP 2 did not conflict with the ALJ's prescribed limitation of work which involved “simple, repetitive” tasks).

         The Court notes Ms. Sims' opposition to reliance on post-hoc arguments to salvage the ALJ's decision. Ms. Sims argues since the ALJ did not state an RFC limited to unskilled work accounts for Dr. Iredale's opinion, neither can the Commissioner. Dkt. 13 at 2. But the argument disregards the fact the ALJ's RFC accounts for the Dr. Iredale's opinion, whether the ALJ gave a reason or not. The Court thus cannot find the ALJ harmfully erred. Accordingly, the Court concludes the ALJ did not erroneously omit a limitation set forth by Dr. Iredale. See Turner v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 613 F.3d 1217, 1223 (9th Cir. 2010) (ALJ incorporated opinions by assessing RFC limitations “entirely consistent” with limitations assessed by physician), and affirms the ALJ's treatment of the doctor's opinion.

         2. Navin Nagaraj, M.D.

         After his first examination in March 2014, Ms. Sims' treating physician Navin Nagaraj, M.D., completed a form “statement of disability” indicating Ms. Sims was “totally disabled for all occupations” at that time, but was expected to be able to resume work after August 26, 2014. Tr. 704-05. In May 2014, Dr. Nagaraj indicated in his treatment notes he did “not feel [Ms. Sims] is completely disabled from working in a regular job, though she disagrees with me.” Tr. 751. Dr. Nagaraj believed ...


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.