United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
NADIYA A. SALIH, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Defendant.
ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER
S. ZILLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
A. Salih seeks review of the denial of her application for
supplemental security income. She contends the ALJ erred in
rejecting the opinion of her treating physician, Manudeep
Mahal, M.D. Dkt. 9. The Court REVERSES the
Commissioner's final decision and
REMANDS the matter for further
administrative proceedings under sentence four of 42 U.S.C.
Salih is currently 44 years old, is not able to communicate
in English, and has worked as a child care attendant. Tr. 30.
On June 10, 2013, she applied for benefits, alleging
disability as of July 17, 2009. Tr. 19. Ms. Salih's
application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr.
19. After the ALJ conducted a hearing on February 9, 2015,
the ALJ issued a decision finding Ms. Salih not disabled. Tr.
the five-step disability evaluation process,  the ALJ found:
Step one: Ms. Salih has not worked since her
Step two: She has the following severe
impairments: degenerative disc disease, congenital
spondylolysis of the lumbar spine, and obesity.
Step three: These impairments do not meet or
equal the requirements of a listed impairment.
Residual Functional Capacity: Ms. Salih can
perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(b),
further limited to occasional balancing, stooping, kneeling,
and crouching; no climbing ladders, ropes, scaffolds, ramps,
stairs; no crawling; no concentrated exposure to vibrations,
pulmonary irritants, or hazards; and moderate noise
Step four: Ms. Salih cannot perform past
Step five: Considering Ms. Salih's age,
education, work experience and residual functional capacity,
there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the
national economy that she can perform and thus she is not
Tr. 21-32. The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request
for review, making the ALJ's decision the
Commissioner's final decision. Tr. 1.
Treating Physician Manudeep Mahal, M.D.
Salih contends the ALJ erroneously rejected the opinions of
her treating doctor, Dr. Mahal. The Court concludes the ALJ
erred in discounting the treating physician's opinions
because he overlooked or misinterpreted extensive clinical
and laboratory findings supporting the opinions.
Social Security Administration gives added weight to treating
doctors' medical opinions, “since these sources are
likely to be the medical professionals most able to provide a
detailed, longitudinal picture of [the claimant's]
medical impairment(s) and may bring a unique perspective to
the medical evidence that cannot be obtained from the
objective medical findings alone….” 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.927(c)(2). Treating physicians' opinions must
be given controlling weight if they are “well-supported
by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic
techniques” and “not inconsistent with the other
substantial evidence” in the record. Orn v.
Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 631 (9th Cir. 2007), quoting 20
C.F.R. § 404.1527. If the treating doctor's opinion
is not contradicted by another doctor, it may be rejected
only for “clear and convincing” reasons supported
by substantial evidence in the record. Orn, 495 F.3d
at 632, citing Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 725
(9th Cir. 1998). Even if contradicted, the treating
doctor's opinion can only be rejected for “specific
and legitimate” reasons supported by substantial