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Bennett v. Berryhill

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

April 3, 2018

NICHOLE MARIE BENNETT, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

          J. RICHARD CREATURA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This 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. 4). This matter has been fully briefed. See Dkt. 11, 19, 21.

         After considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes that the ALJ erred by failing to discuss all of the medical opinions from the state agency consulting doctor, such as the opinion that plaintiff only could engage in superficial interaction with supervisors. See AR. 31. Fully crediting this opinion could lead to a finding of disability as it is unclear the exact amount of interaction with supervisors that is required for the three positions the ALJ found that plaintiff could perform. It is unclear if the amount of interaction with supervisors required is more than superficial.

         Therefore, for the reasons stated herein and based on the record as a whole, the Court concludes that this matter is reversed and remanded pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to the Acting Commissioner for further consideration.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, NICHOLE MARIE BENNETT, was born in 1989 and was 24 years old on the amended alleged date of disability onset of December 20, 2013. See AR. 43, 182-87. Plaintiff attended high school until the eleventh grade and obtained her GED two years later. AR. 45. She has no work history. AR. 45-46

         According to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of “Chiari malformation with headaches, scoliosis, and affective disorder (20 CFR 416.920(c)).” AR. 25. At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was living in a house with her three children. AR. 57-59.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff's application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a) (Title XVI) of the Social Security Act was denied initially and following reconsideration. See AR. 90-97, 99-110. Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Kelly Wilson (“the ALJ”) on June 26, 2015. See AR. 39-79. On December 31, 2015, the ALJ issued a written decision in which she concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the Social Security Act. See AR. 20-38.

         In plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issues: The ALJ erred in (1) failing to include in his residual functional capacity finding, all of the limitations assessed by Gary L. Nelson, PhD.; (2) rejecting the opinion of W. Daniel Davenport, MD; and (3) rejecting plaintiff's testimony. See Dkt. 11, pp. 1-2.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant 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 (9th Cir. 2005) (citing Tidwell v. Apfel, 161 F.3d 599, 601 (9th Cir. 1999)).

         DISCUSSION

         (1) The ALJ erred in failing to include in her residual functional capacity finding all of the limitations ...


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