United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING THE CASE FOR FURTHER
C. COUGHENOUR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Mark Anthony McKinney, seeks review of the denial of his
applications for Disability Insurance Benefits and
Supplemental Insurance Security Income. Dkt. 1. Plaintiff
contends the ALJ harmfully erred by rejecting the opinions of
David Widlan, Ph.D., and Victoria McDuffee, Ph.D. Dkt. 14 at
1. As relief, plaintiff contends the Court should reverse the
ALJ's decision and remand the case for further
proceedings. Id. The Commissioner disagrees arguing
the ALJ gave two valid reasons to reject the doctors'
opinions. Dkt. 15 at 3. As discussed below, the Court finds
the ALJ harmfully erred, 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), 416.920(a), the ALJ found:
Step one: Plaintiff has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of
May 14, 2013.
Step two: Affective disorder, anxiety
disorder, personality disorder, and polysubstance abuse
disorder are severe impairments.
Step three: These impairments do not meet or
equal the requirements of a listed impairment. See
20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P. Appendix 1.
Residual Functional Capacity: Plaintiff can
perform the full range of work at all exertional levels. Due
to mental disorders he can perform simple and detailed tasks,
but would have difficulty performing complex tasks
consistently. He can work in jobs away from the general
public. He can have superficial contact with co-workers and
supervisors and is able to work in groups of 10 or fewer
Step four: Plaintiff can perform past
relevant work as a treatment center attendant - psych aide,
truck driver, or construction worker.
Step five: Alternatively, plaintiff can
perform other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the
national economy and is therefore not disabled.
Tr. 14-27. The ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's
final decision because the Appeals Council denied
plaintiff's request for review. Tr. 1. The rest of the
procedural history is not essential in determining the
outcome of the case and is thus not recounted.
Commissioner's determination a claimant is not disabled
will be upheld if the findings of fact are supported by
substantial evidence in the record as a whole and the proper
legal standards were applied. Schneider v. Comm'r of
the SSA, 223 F.3d 968, 973 (9th Cir. 2000). Plaintiff
challenges how the ALJ handled the opinions of examining
psychologists David Widlan, Ph.D., and Victoria McDuffee,
Ph.D. Dkt. 14 at 1. The ALJ must provide clear and convincing
reasons supported by substantial evidence to discount the
uncontradicted opinions of these examining psychologists.
See Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 830 (9th Cir.