United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
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 Notice of Initial Assignment to a U.S.
Magistrate Judge and Consent Form, Dkt. 1; Consent to Proceed
Before a United States Magistrate Judge, Dkt. 2. This matter
has been fully briefed. See Dkts. 14, 17, 18.
considering and reviewing the record, the Court concludes
that the ALJ did not err by determining that it was not
necessary to consult a medical expert regarding whether or
not plaintiff equaled a listing for her heart condition. The
regulations afford the ALJ discretion in determining whether
or not to consult a medical expert, and a prior district
court decision did not order the ALJ to do so. The ALJ gave
at least one clear and convincing reason for rejecting
plaintiff's subjective complaints, noting that her heart
condition improved with treatment. Finally, the ALJ's
step four and step five findings are not inconsistent,
because the ALJ properly relied on vocational expert
testimony that plaintiff could not do her past work as a hand
packager, but was capable of performing her past work as a
this matter is affirmed pursuant to sentence four of 42
U.S.C. § 405(g).
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. 48, 56.
Plaintiff's initial hearing was held in September, 2012,
before Administrative Law Judge Cynthia Rosa (“the
ALJ”), who denied plaintiff's claim. AR. 8, 23. The
Appeals Council denied review of plaintiff's claim, and
plaintiff subsequently appealed to the district court, who
reversed and remanded plaintiff's claim. AR. 1, 874.
second hearing was again held before ALJ Rosa on October 14,
2015. AR. 812. On February 26, 2016, the ALJ issued a written
decision in which the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not
disabled pursuant to the Social Security Act. AR.792.
February 13, 2017, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's
request for review, making the written decision by the ALJ
the final agency decision subject to judicial review. AR.
785-86; see 20 C.F.R. § 404.981. Plaintiff
filed a complaint in this Court seeking judicial review of
the ALJ's written decision in September 2018. Dkt. 1.
Defendant filed the sealed administrative record regarding
this matter (“AR.”) on December 17, 2018. Dkt.
Ingrid F., was born in 1964 and was 43 years old on the
alleged disability onset date of December 15, 2007. AR. 49.
Plaintiff completed high school and has past work history as
a cashier and in packaging. AR. 145-46. Plaintiff states that
she stopped working because of her conditions. AR. 145.
filed her claim alleging heart problems and diabetes. AR. 49.
According to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe
impairments of rheumatic mitral valve stenosis, status-post
valvuloplasty, and mitral valve replacement. AR. 798.
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 ...