United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
CHRISTOPHER M. PARK, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner of Social Security for Operations, Defendant.
ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT
RICHARD CREATURA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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 Dkts. 14, 17, 18.
case involves conflicting opinions from two non-examining
medical sources, Dr. Luahna Ude, Ph.D. and Dr. John Simonds,
M.D, who gave opinions regarding plaintiff's functional
limitations resulting from his psychological impairments. The
ALJ gave greater weight to Dr. Simonds' opinion over Dr.
Ude's opinion. However, the ALJ's reasons for
rejecting Dr. Ude's opinion are not specific and
legitimate supported by substantial evidence. This error is
not harmless, because a reasonable ALJ, when fully crediting
Dr. Ude's opinion, may have included additional
limitations in the RFC, and could have reached a different
this matter is reversed and remanded pursuant to sentence
four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for further administrative
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
CHRISTOPHER M. PARK, was born in 1976 and was 35 years old on
the alleged date of disability onset of September 20, 2011.
See AR. 238-39. Plaintiff completed high school and
two years of college. AR. 84-85. Plaintiff has work
experience in telecommunications, video gaming, and wireless
internet. AR. 87-88, 262-67.
to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of
“degenerative disc disease, carpal tunnel syndrome,
fibromyalgia, asthma, morbid obesity, obstructive sleep
apnea, an anxiety disorder, and an affective disorder (20 CFR
404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).” AR. 21.
time of the hearing, plaintiff was living with his girlfriend
in his parents' rental house. AR. 83.
application for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423 (Title
II) of the Social Security Act was denied initially and
following reconsideration. See AR. 121, 134.
Plaintiff later filed an application for Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”) benefits pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1382(a) (Title XVI) (AR. 241-50) that was
joined with the DIB claim. AR. 18. Plaintiff's requested
hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Rudy
(Rudolph) M. Murgo (“the ALJ”) on June 18, 2015.
See AR. 77-120. A supplemental hearing was held on
October 2, 2015. See AR. 44-76. On November 30,
2015, the ALJ issued a written decision in which the ALJ
concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the
Social Security Act. See AR. 15-43.
plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following
issue: Whether the ALJ erred in rejecting the opinion of
non-examining psychologist, Dr. Ude, without giving reasons
supported by substantial evidence. See Dkt. 14 at 1.
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 ...