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Huhn v. Berryhill

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

June 12, 2018

RONALD ROY HUHN, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner of Social Security for Operations, Defendant.

          ORDER REVERSING THE COMMISSIONER'S FINAL DECISION AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS

          BRIAN A. TSUCHIDA, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Ronald Roy Huhn, Jr., seeks review of the denial of his application for Disability Insurance Benefits. He contends the ALJ erred by (1) excluding cervical torticollis[1] at step two, (2) rejecting Mr. Huhn's testimony about medication side effects, and (3) discounting opinions describing limitations caused by Mr. Huhn's bipolar disorder. Dkt. 11 at 1. For the reasons below, the Court REVERSES the Commissioner's final decision and REMANDS the matter for further administrative proceedings under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         BACKGROUND

         Mr. Huhn is currently 54 years old, has two years of college education, and has worked as a truck mechanic. Tr. 279-80. On July 28, 2014, he protectively applied for benefits, alleging disability as of January 1, 2003.[2] Tr. 201-07. His application was denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 120-22, 124-25. The ALJ conducted a hearing on August 23, 2016 (Tr. 47-76), and subsequently found Mr. Huhn not disabled. Tr. 19-32. As the Appeals Council denied Mr. Huhn's request for review, the ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's final decision. Tr. 1-6.

         THE ALJ'S DECISION

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [3] the ALJ found:

Step one: Mr. Huhn had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 25, 2012.
Step two: Mr. Huhn's status post right rotator cuff repair; affective disorders variously diagnosed as bipolar, mood, and depressive disorders; anxiety disorders variously diagnosed as anxiety and agoraphobia; insomnia; and alcohol abuse, in remission, are severe impairments.
Step three: These impairments did not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[4]
Residual Functional Capacity: Mr. Huhn can perform light work with additional limitations: he can lift/carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. He can sit for six hours and stand/walk for six hours in an eight-hour workday. He can perform postural activities on an unlimited basis except that he can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. He can frequently reach overhead with his right upper extremity. He must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards such as heights and dangerous moving machinery. He has sufficient concentration to understand, remember, and carry out simple, routine tasks. He can maintain concentration and pace in two-hour increments for simple, routine tasks with usual and customary breaks throughout an eight-hour workday. He can work superficially and occasionally with the general public (with “superficial” meaning he can refer the public to others to resolve their demands/requests, but that he does not have to resolve those demands/requests).
Step four: Mr. Huhn cannot perform his past work.
Step five: As there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Mr. Huhn can perform, he is not disabled.

Tr. ...


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