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Blackstone v. Berryhill

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

February 15, 2018

JON BLACKSTONE, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER REVERSING DECISION AND REMANDING CASE

          ROBERT J. BRYAN United States District Judge

         This matter comes before the Court on review of the file herein.

         Procedural History.

         On July 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed this civil action, alleging that the Social Security Administration improperly denied his application for disability insurance when the ALJ failed to properly consider the opinion of Dennis Anderson, D.O., who is Plaintiff's treating physician. Dkt. 9.

         Basic Data.

         Born in 1967, Plaintiff has prior work experience as an applications programmer, parts inspector, Boeing program planner, and a civil preparedness officer. Tr. 34-35. He has at least a high school education. Tr. 35.

         ALJ Decision.

         The ALJ found: (1) that Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act; (2) that Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 1, 2014, the amended alleged onset date; (3) that Plaintiff suffered from the following severe impairments: osteoarthritis of the hips, degenerative disc disease or degenerative joint disease of the lumbar spine, right shoulder reduction, dislocation, and tendinosis, obesity, affective disorder (major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder), anxiety related disorder (anxiety, general anxiety disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”)) and attention deficit disorder (“ADD”); that the impairments, even in combination, did not qualify under the Listings; (4) that the Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity:

. . . to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except as follows. He could occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, and crouch. He would not climb ladders, ropes, scaffolds, ramps, stairs or crawl. He could frequently reach bilaterally. He would avoid concentrated exposures to wetness, vibrations, and hazards. He could perform simple, routine tasks and could follow short, simple instructions. He could do work that needs little or no judgment and could perform simple duties that could be learned on the job in a short period. He requires a work environment with minimal supervisor contact. (Minimal contact does not preclude all contact, rather it means contact does not occur regularly. Minimal contact also does not preclude simple and superficial exchanges and it does not preclude being in proximity to the supervisor). He could work in proximity to co-workers but not in a cooperative or team effort. He requires a work environment that has no more than superficial interactions with co-workers. He would not deal with the general public as in a sales position or where the general public is frequently encountered as an essential element of the work process. Incidental contact of a superficial nature with the general public is not precluded.

         that he has no past relevant work; and lastly, (5) that Plaintiff could perform other work existing in the national economy, such as a mail room clerk, marking clerk, and small parts assembler.Tr. 20-36. Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. Id.

         Legal Standard.

         The findings of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration are conclusive (42 U.S.C. § 405(g)), and the decision of the Commissioner to deny benefits will be overturned only if it is not supported by substantial evidence or it is based on legal error. Gonzalez v. Sullivan, 914 F.2d 1197, 1200 (9th Cir.1990).

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ failed to properly consider his treating doctor's opinion regarding ...


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