United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER REVERSING THE COMMISSIONER'S FINAL DECISION
AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS
BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Young appeals the ALJ's decision finding him not
disabled. Dkt. 3. He contends the ALJ erroneously rejected
the opinions of Robert Schneider, M.D., and his testimony
about his limitations. As relief he contends the Court should
remand the case for an award of benefits or alternatively for
further administrative proceedings. Dkt. 9 at 1, 9. For the
reasons below, the Court finds the ALJ harmfully erred and
REVERSES the Commissioner's final
decision and REMANDS the case for further
administrative proceedings under sentence four of 42 U.S.C.
the five-step disability evaluation process,  the ALJ found:
Step one: Mr. Young has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since June 2015.
Step two: Degenerative disc disease,
cervical and lumbar spine; obstructive sleep apnea;
hypothyroidism; neurogenic bladder with urinary incontinence;
degenerative joint disorder/arthritis of the bilateral hands
are severe impairments.
Step three: These impairments do not meet or
equal the requirements of a listed impairment.
Residual Functional Capacity: Mr. Young can
perform light work with numerous postural and environmental
Step four: Mr. Young can perform past
relevant work as a telephone sales representative and sales
manager and is therefore not disabled.
AR 21-29. The Appeals Council denied review making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. AR
The ALJ's Evaluation of the Opinions of Robert Schneider,
Young contends the ALJ erroneously rejected Dr.
Schneider's opinions about the severity of his
limitations. In 2015, after examining Mr. Young and reviewing
his medical records, Dr. Schneider opined that based upon
“history and physical examination, ” Mr. Young
“is extremely limited in activities of daily living at
any work site.” AR 490. Dr. Young indicated Mr.
Young's neurogenic bladder causes frequent voiding and
incontinence that greatly embarrasses Mr. Young at work. The
doctor also opined “this condition as well as
arthralgia from previous injuries in both hands related to
DJD, fatigue from sleep apnea, post-operative loss of full
range of motion left elbow and shoulder are substantial
barriers to a successful occupational placement.”
Id. Dr. Schneider further opined “mild to
moderate depression as a consequence to multiple injuries to
the upper extremities and neck with chronic pain is
significant when combined with a neurogenic bladder.”
gave “little weight” to Dr. Schneider's
opinions for four reasons. AR 27. First, the ALJ found the
doctor “appears to have relied heavily on the
subjective symptoms.” Id. Substantial evidence
does not support this finding. If a medical source's
opinions are based “to a large extent” on a
patient's self-reports of symptoms and not on clinical
evidence, and the ALJ finds the applicant not credible, the
ALJ may discount the source's opinion. Tommasetti v.
Astrue, 533 F.3d 1035, 1041 (9th Cir. 2008). However,
when an opinion is not more heavily based on a patient's
self-reports than on clinical observations, there is no
evidentiary basis for rejecting the opinion. See Ryan v.
Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 528 F.3d 1194, 1199-1200 (9th
Cir. 2008). Additionally, an ALJ does not provide clear and
convincing reasons for rejecting an examining doctor's