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Terry R. v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

April 9, 2019

TERRY R., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          MICHELLE L. PETERSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff seeks review of the denial of his applications for Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits. Plaintiff contends the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) erred in discounting his testimony and the opinion of Susie Ro, M.D. (Dkt. # 10 at 1.) The Court notes that Plaintiff's briefs do not appear to comply with the font requirements of Local Civil Rule 10(e), and that Commissioner's brief also appears to have some formatting irregularities, specifically condensed spacing. Counsel is instructed to ensure compliance with these requirements in future filings or they will be stricken.

         As discussed below, the Court recommends REVERSING the Commissioner's final decision and REMANDING this case for further administrative proceedings.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was born in 1969 and has completed the eighth grade and earned a GED. He has previously worked as a retail cashier. AR at 40, 89, 385. Plaintiff was last gainfully employed in June 2012. Id. at 394.

         In September 2012 and December 2013, Plaintiff applied for benefits, alleging disability as of June 11, 2012. Id. at 333-34, 346-54. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration, and Plaintiff requested a hearing. Id. at 175-77, 180-86. The ALJ held a hearing in December 2013 (id. at 87-125), and subsequently found Plaintiff not disabled. Id. at 151-68. Plaintiff requested Appeals Council review, and the Appeals Council reversed the ALJ's decision and remanded the case for additional administrative proceedings. Id. at 171-74.

         On remand the ALJ conducted hearings in September and November 2016 (id. at 38-86), and subsequently issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. Id. at 13-28.

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [1] the ALJ found:

Step one: Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date.
Step two: Plaintiff's degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine, cervical dystonia with pain and headaches, and obesity are severe impairments.
Step three: These impairments do not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[2]
Residual Functional Capacity: Plaintiff can perform light work with additional limitations: he is limited to carrying 10 pounds occasionally and frequently. He can stand and/or walk for a total of four hours in an eight-hour workday (with normal breaks). He can sit for a total of six hours in an eight-hour workday (with normal breaks). He can occasionally push and/or pull, including operation of hand and/or foot controls. He can occasionally climb ramps and stairs. He can occasionally kneel, crouch, and crawl. He cannot climb ladders, ropes, scaffolds. He can occasionally reach overhead bilaterally. He should be allowed to shift postural positions periodically during a two-hour period for a couple of minutes (which can be accomplished by any task that the worker can perform either sitting or standing for a couple of minutes, such as answering a phone or getting work supplies, or if the job has a sit/stand option). Work tasks should not require the claimant to rapidly turn his head right or left.
Step four: Plaintiff cannot perform past relevant work.
Step five: As there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform, he is not disabled.

Id.

         As the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, the ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's final decision. Id. at 1-6. Plaintiff appealed the ...


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