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Shade v. Berryhill

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

July 16, 2018

VIRGIL C. SHADE, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner of Social Security for Operations, Defendant.

          ORDER REMANDING FOR FURTHER PROCEEDINGS AND PAYMENT OF BENEFITS

          MARSHA J. PECHMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff, Virgil C. Shade, seeks review of the denial of his 2011 application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) for a closed period ending June 19, 2015. Plaintiff contends the ALJ erred in evaluating his severe impairments, rejecting three medical opinions, and evaluating what jobs he could perform. Dkt. 36 at 1. As discussed below, the Court REVERSES the Commissioner's final decision and REMANDS the matter under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for further proceedings on the DIB claim and an award of benefits on the SSI claim.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is 54 years old, has a high school education, and worked as a cashier, cook, dishwasher, garbage collector, and cleaner. Tr. 299. Plaintiff's first applications for SSI and DIB were denied and became administratively final on February 2, 2010. Tr. 286.

         In February 2011, plaintiff applied for the DIB and SSI benefits at issue in this case, alleging disability as of February 2007, amended to February 3, 2010. Tr. 286. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 286. After the ALJ conducted a hearing in June 2013, he issued a decision in December 2013 finding plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 286-301.

         THE 2013 ALJ DECISION

         The ALJ separately analyzed the DIB and SSI claims, because DIB claims require a finding that disability began before the date last insured. Tr. 289. For both claims, the ALJ only considered the period beginning February 3, 2010, the day after plaintiff's previous claims denial became administratively final.

         For the DIB claim, the ALJ found that plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through June 30, 2010. Tr. 289. The ALJ then used the five-step disability evaluation process set forth in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520, finding that for the period from February 3 to June 30, 2010:

Step one: Plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity after the amended alleged onset date of February 3, 2010.
Step two: Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease and lumbar strain.
Step three: These impairments did not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[1]
Residual Functional Capacity (RFC): Plaintiff could perform sedentary work, with a slight decrease in balancing, and no climbing stairs or working at unprotected heights.
Step four: Plaintiff could not have performed past relevant work.
Step five: Because jobs exist in significant numbers in the national economy that plaintiff could have performed, plaintiff was not disabled. Tr. 289-90.
For SSI benefits, the ALJ considered the period beginning February 3, 2010, and, using the five-step disability evaluation process set forth in 20 C.F.R. § 416.920, found:
Step one: Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the amended alleged onset date of ...

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