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Houpt v. Berryhill

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

February 27, 2018

DELIA BIBAR HOUPT, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A BERRYHILL, Defendant.

          ORDER RE: SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY APPEAL

          Marsha J. Pechman United States District Judge.

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiff Delia Houpt's request for review of the Social Security Commissioner's denial of her application for benefits. Having reviewed the Opening Brief (Dkt. No. 16), the Response (Dkt. No. 17), the Reply (Dkt. No. 20) and the Administrative Record, the Court REVERSES the Commissioner's decision and REMANDS with instructions to find Plaintiff disabled.

         Background

         Plaintiff Delia Houpt seeks review of the denial of her application for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits. Plaintiff alleges disability based on complex partial seizures. Plaintiff is currently 50 years old, was born and raised in the Philippines, and speaks only limited English. (AR 35.) Her only prior work in the United States was as an unskilled helper in a bakery around 1996-1997. (AR 36, 1082-1084.) Plaintiff claims she began suffering seizures in 1993, and was terminated from her job as a result. (AR 1084.) She claims an onset date of July 1, 1997 and a last insured date of September 30, 1997. (AR 848.)

         Plaintiff applied for benefits in 2012. (AR 14.) Her application was denied initially and on reconsideration. (Id.) The ALJ conducted a hearing in 2013 (the “2013 Hearing”), and found Plaintiff not disabled. (Id. at 11-26.) After Plaintiff appealed to this Court, the Commissioner agreed to remand the case for a new hearing. (AR 892, 913-914.) The ALJ conducted another hearing in 2016 (the “2016 Hearing”), where Plaintiff appeared with an attorney representative and testified through an interpreter. (AR 1076-1086.) In reaching his decision, the ALJ considered testimony by Medical Experts (“ME”), a Vocational Expert (“VE”), and lay witnesses.

         The ALJ's Decision

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [1] the ALJ found:

• Plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period between her alleged onset date and date last insured;
• Through the date last insured, Plaintiff had the following severe impairment: complex partial seizures;
• Plaintiff's impairment did not meet or medically equal the severity of listing 11.02 (epilepsy);
• Plaintiff had the residential functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform routine or learned light work, defined in 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b) as “lifting and/or carrying up to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently, standing and/or walking six hours in an eight-hour workday, and sitting about six hours in an eight-hour workday.” However, the ALJ found that Plaintiff could not “climb ladders, work at heights, work near hazards, with dangerous machinery, sharp instruments or power tools, should not balance or operate vehicles, work in deep water, or with live electrical currents or wiring, ” and that Plaintiff should not “be required to make urgent, timely communication in English, . . . perform security work, or have more than brief superficial contact with the general public.”
• Through the date last insured, Plaintiff was unable to perform past relevant work;
• Through the date last insured, Plaintiff was able to perform other work which existed in significant numbers in the national economy, including “assembler of electrical accessories” (DOT 729.687-010), “inspector and hand packager” ...

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