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Gardner v. Berryhill

United States District Court, W.D. Washington

April 10, 2018

CHARQUELLA D. GARDNER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner of the Social Security Administration for Operations, 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. 2). This matter has been fully briefed. See Dkt. 12, 15, 16.

         After considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes that the ALJ erred when evaluating the medical evidence: although the ALJ gave “great weight" to the opinion from a particular examining psychologist, the ALJ failed to acknowledge, or explain why she did not credit fully, the opinion from this doctor that plaintiff potentially suffered from a disabling limitation and that she needed to be properly encouraged and taught before she could develop the ability to maintain employment. Therefore, this matter is reversed and remanded to the Acting Commissioner for further consideration consistent with this order.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff, CHARQUELLA D. GARDNER, was born in 1993 and was 19 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of August 1, 2012. See AR. 15, 281-89. Plaintiff obtained her diploma after getting her final credit at a community college. AR. 40. Plaintiff has some work history in fast food restaurants, as a cashier and running carnival rides. AR. 421-25. Plaintiff was last employed housekeeping, but was fired for not showing up and getting into an argument with the supervisor. AR. 41-42.

         According to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of “learning disorder NOS, borderline intellectual functioning, affective disorder, and anxiety-related disorder (20 CFR 416.920(c)).” AR. 17.

         At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was living in an apartment with her disabled mother. AR. 40-41.

         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. 87-98, 100-113. Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Irene Sloan (“the ALJ”) on February 10, 2016. See AR. 35-63. On March 18, 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. 12-34.

         In plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issues: (1) Whether the ALJ erred in failing to properly consider the opinions of the examining providers in the record and in failing to provide adequate explanation for not according those opinions more weight; and (2) Whether the ALJ's adopted residual functional capacity, finding that the plaintiff is capable of work that is simple with no limits on interactions with supervisors and coworkers, is supported by substantial evidence in the record. See Dkt. 12, p. 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) Whether the ALJ erred in failing to properly consider the opinions of the ...


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