United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER REVERSING DEFENDANT'S DECISION TO DENY
L. ROBART, United States District Judge.
Ricky Ray Sharpes seeks review of the denial of his
application for Supplemental Security Income and Disability
Insurance Benefits. Mr. Sharpes contends the Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) (1) misevaluated his symptom
testimony; and (2) misevaluated the opinion of Peter Weiss,
Ph.D. (Op. Br. (Dkt. # 9) at 4-12.) As discussed below, the
court REVERSES Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill's (the
“Commissioner”) final decision and REMANDS the
matter for further administrative proceedings under sentence
four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
THE ALJ'S DECISION
the five-step disability evaluation process,  the ALJ found:
Step one: Mr. Sharpes has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since February 3, 2015, the
alleged disability onset date.
Step two: Mr. Sharpes has the following
severe impairments: osteoarthritis; degenerative disc
disease; status post cervical fusion; fibromyalgia;
migraines; minimal degenerative osteophytosis and mild
degeneration of the knees; and major depressive disorder.
Step three: These impairments do not meet or
equal the requirements of a listed impairment.
Residual Functional Capacity: Mr. Sharpes
can perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1567(b) and 416.967(b). He can stand/walk for six hours
in an eight-hour workday, and sit for six hours in an
eight-hour workday. He must be permitted to change position
from sitting to standing, or standing to sitting every 30
minutes at the workstation. He can never climb ladders,
ropes, or scaffolds. He can occasionally climb ramps and
stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, and crouch. He can never
crawl. He can occasionally perform overhead reaching
bilaterally. He can frequently handle and finger bilaterally.
He must avoid concentrated exposure to cold, vibrations, and
hazards. He is limited to unskilled and semi-skilled tasks
consistent with a specific vocational preparation
(“SVP”) of up to four. He can have occasional
Step four: Mr. Sharpes cannot perform past
Step five: Mr. Sharpes can perform jobs that
exist in significant numbers in the national economy,
including office helper, mail clerk, and delivery driver.
Therefore, Mr. Sharpes has not been disabled since February
3, 2015, the alleged disability onset date.
(Administrative Record (“AR”) (Dkt. # 7) at
13-24.) The Appeals Council denied Mr. Sharpes's request
for review, rendering the ALJ's decision final.
(Id. at 1.)
Sharpes, as the claimant, bears the burden of proving he is
disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act
(“Act”). See Meanel v. Apfel, 172 F.3d
1111, 1113 (9th Cir. 1999). Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), the court may only set aside a denial of social
security benefits when 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). The ALJ is responsible for
determining credibility, resolving conflicts in medical
testimony, and resolving any other ambiguities that exist.
Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir.
1995). While the court ...