United States District Court, W.D. Washington
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT
Richard Creatura, United States Magistrate Judge
Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c),
Fed.R.Civ.P. 73 and Local Magistrate Judge Rule MJR 13
(see also Consent to Proceed Before a United States
Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 2). This matter has been fully
briefed. See Dkt. 10, 14, 15.
considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes
that the ALJ erred when failing to credit fully
plaintiff's credibility and testimony. Although plaintiff
made some minor inconsistent statements about his alcohol
use, neither the ALJ nor defendant explained the relevance of
these statements to the assessment of limitations resulting
from plaintiff's asthma and back pain. The ALJ also
relied on plaintiff's activities of daily living, yet
failed to identify any specific contradiction between these
activities and plaintiff's other testimony.
the ALJ failed to provide clear and convincing reasons for
failing to credit fully plaintiff's testimony, this
matter is reversed and remanded pursuant to sentence four of
42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to the Acting Commissioner for
further proceedings consistent with this Order.
CHRISTOPHER GRIFFUS, was born in 1964 and was 49 years old on
the alleged date of disability onset of February 16, 2014.
See AR. 158-64. Plaintiff completed high school, but
was unsuccessful in his community college classes and dropped
out. AR. 46-48. Plaintiff has work history as a warehouse
worker and driver. AR. 526-37. He left his last employment
when he was physically hurting and sick and his doctor
suggested he find something else. AR. 50.
to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of
“degenerative joint disease in the left hip,
degenerative disc disease, asthma, bipolar disorder/major
depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, pain
disorder with both psychological factors and a general
medical condition, and alcohol dependence (20 CFR 404.1520(c)
and 416.920(c)).” AR. 20.
time of the hearing, plaintiff was staying with his brother
sometimes and living apart from his wife of 30 years. AR. 47.
application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423 (Title
II) of the Social Security Act was denied initially and
following reconsideration. See AR. 103-05, 110-11.
Plaintiff's subsequent application for Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) benefits pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1382(a) (Title XVI) of the Social Security Act
(AR. 174-78) was accepted by Administrative Law Judge Irene
Sloan (“the ALJ”) and treated as a concurrent
application at plaintiff's requested hearing held on
December 21, 2015. See AR. 41-77. On June 22, 2016,
the ALJ issued a written decision in which the ALJ concluded
that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the Social
Security Act. See AR. 15-34.
plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following
issues: (1) The ALJ erred in her consideration of
plaintiff's allegations; (2) the ALJ erred in her
weighing of the medical opinions; and (3) the ALJ erred in
her weighing of the lay witness statement. See Dkt.
10, p. 1.
to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court may set aside the
Commissioner's denial of social security benefits if the
ALJ's findings are based on legal error or not supported
by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. Bayliss
v. Barnhart, 427 F.3d 1211, 1214 n.1 ...