United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
RICHARD L. NISBET, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING CASE FOR FURTHER
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
L. Nisbet seeks review of the denial of his application for
Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance
Benefits. Mr. Nisbet contends the ALJ's residual
functional capacity (RFC) determination fails to account for
all of his physical limitations and the ALJ failed to develop
the record. As discussed below, the Court
REVERSES the Commissioner's final
decision and REMANDS the matter for further
administrative proceedings under sentence four of 42 U.S.C.
Nisbet is currently 56 years old, has a high school diploma,
and has worked as a cook and laborer. Tr. 43, 45, 60. Mr.
Nisbet's applications for benefits, alleging disability
as of January 15, 2011, were denied initially April 2, 2014,
and on reconsideration June 19, 2014. Tr. 19. The ALJ
conducted a hearing on June 3, 2015, in which Mr. Nisbet,
through counsel, amended the alleged onset date to February
29, 2012. Tr. 19. After the hearing, Mr. Nisbet submitted
additional evidence to the ALJ, which was admitted into the
record. Tr. 19. The ALJ issued a decision on October 8, 2015,
finding Mr. Nisbet not disabled. Tr. 19-32.
the five-step disability evaluation process,  the ALJ found:
Step one: Mr. Nisbet has not worked since
the February 2012 alleged onset date.
Step two: Mr. Nisbet has the following
severe impairments: bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome status
post releases, osteoarthritis of the knees bilaterally,
neuralgias of the feet and ankles bilaterally, and obesity.
Step three: These impairments do not meet or
equal the requirements of a listed impairment.
Residual Functional Capacity: Mr. Nisbet can
perform less than the full range of light work, limited to:
occasional climbing of ramps and stairs; no climbing ropes,
ladders or scaffolds; frequent stooping; occasional
crouching, crawling and kneeling; frequent pushing and
pulling with bilateral upper and lower extremities; frequent
but not constant handling and fingering bilaterally; avoiding
concentrated exposure to vibrations and hazards.
Step four: Mr. Nisbet cannot perform past
Step five: As there are jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy that he can
perform, Mr. Nisbet is not disabled.
Tr. 21-31. The Appeals Council denied Mr. Nisbet's
request for review, making the ALJ's decision the
Commissioner's final decision. Tr. 3.
Nisbet contends the ALJ's RFC determination fails to
account for limitations on standing and on repetitive hand
movements, which are established by medical and other
opinions to which the ALJ gave weight. Mr. Nisbet also argues
that the ALJ erred in discounting his testimony as to his
wrist impairments, and erred in failing to obtain certain
medical documents to fully develop the record.
Medical Source Opinion Evidence
treating or examining doctor's opinion is not
contradicted by another doctor, it may be rejected only for
clear and convincing reasons. Lester v. Chater, 81
F.3d 821, 830 (9th Cir. 1996). Where contradicted, a treating
or examining physician's opinion may not be rejected
without “specific and legitimate reasons supported by
substantial evidence in the record for so doing.”
Id. at 830-31. “An ALJ can satisfy the
‘substantial evidence' requirement by
‘setting out a detailed and thorough summary of the
facts and conflicting clinical evidence, stating his
interpretation thereof, and making findings.'”
Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1011 (9th Cir.
2014) (quoting Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 725
(9th Cir. 1998)). The ALJ is responsible for evaluating
credibility, resolving conflicts in medical testimony, and
resolving any other ambiguities that might exist. Andrews
v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 1995).