United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING THE CASE FOR FURTHER
RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Kathleen Russell seeks review of the denial of her May 21,
2014, application for Disability Insurance Benefits.
Plaintiff contends the ALJ erred in weighing the medical
evidence and her testimony, and that these errors undermine
the ALJ's step five findings. Dkt. 9 at 1. As relief,
plaintiff requests the Court remand the case for further
proceedings. Id. The Commissioner disagrees and
argues the ALJ reasonably weighed the medical evidence and
reasonably rejected plaintiff's testimony. Dkt. 13. 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.
the five-step disability evaluation process, set forth in 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a), Step one:
Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since the alleged onset date of April 3, 2013.
Step two: Costochondritis is a severe
Step three: This impairment does not meet or
equal the requirements of a listed impairment. See
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520.
Residual Functional Capacity: Plaintiff can
perform light work, except she can lift 20 pounds occasional
and 10 pounds frequently; she can sit, stand or walk up to
six hours in an eight hour workday; she can frequently use
ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes, scaffolds, balance, kneel and
crawl; she can occasionally stoop or crouch; and she is
limited to simple routine tasks.
Step four: Plaintiff is unable to perform
past relevant work.
Step five: Plaintiff can perform other jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy and
thus is not disabled.
Tr. 17-28. The ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's
final decision because the Appeals Council denied review. Tr.
1. The rest of the procedural history is not relevant to the
outcome of the case and is thus not recounted.
The ALJ's Assessment of the Medical Evidence
contends the ALJ erred in giving no weight to the opinions of
Ricardo Castro, D.C., a chiropractor, and in giving partial
weight to the opinions of Anmaji Manyam, M.D. Dkt. 9 at 2-3.
Plaintiff appears to argue the ALJ did not have a valid basis
to give more weight to Dr. Manyam's opinions than to Dr.
Castro's opinions. The argument is off-point in that the
ALJ did not weigh the two opinions against each other.
Rather, the ALJ rejected Dr. Castro's opinions for
reasons independent of what Dr. Manyam found.
issue before the Court is thus whether the ALJ provided valid
reasons to reject Dr. Castro's opinions. Here, the ALJ
found Dr. Castro completed a functional capacity evaluation
on March 23, 2016, in which he “essentially limit[ed]
the claimant to less than a full range of sedentary
exertion.” Tr. 25. The ALJ rejected Dr. Castro's
opinions on the grounds he is not an acceptable medical
source for diagnosis of an impairment; and the doctor is not