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Dylan W. v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

May 15, 2019

DYLAN W., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER AND DISMISSING THE CASE

          Brian A. Tsuchida, Chief United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff seeks review of the denial of application for Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits. He contends the ALJ erred by assessing the medical evidence, assessing his own statements, and assessing the lay statements. Dkt. 15 at 2.[1] As discussed below, the Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's final decision and DISMISSES the case with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is currently 37 years old, has a GED and has worked as a barista, restaurant busser, in-home caregiver, and retail sales clerk. Tr. 66, 372, 382. In June 2010, he applied for benefits, alleging disability as of October 1, 2008. Tr. 341-42, 345-51. His applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 202-16, 222-40. The ALJ conducted a hearing on March 22, 2012 (Tr. 138-73), and subsequently found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 44-55.

         The Appeals Council granted Plaintiff's request for review, and remanded the case for further administrative proceedings. Tr. 198-200. An ALJ held hearings on January 22, 2014 (95-137), and May 6, 2014 (Tr. 60-94), and subsequently found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 19-34.

         The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review (Tr. 1-6), but the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington reversed the ALJ's decision and remanded for further proceedings. Tr. 764-77. The ALJ held another hearing on August 17, 2017 (Tr. 716-60), and subsequently found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 688-707. Plaintiff now seeks judicial review of the ALJ's decision.

         THE ALJ'S DECISION

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [2] the ALJ found:

Step one: Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 1, 2008, the alleged onset date.
Step two: Plaintiff's schizoaffective disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder not otherwise specified, social phobia, delusional disorder, and history of polysubstance abuse are severe impairments.
Step three: These impairments did not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[3]
RFC: Plaintiff can perform a full range of work at all exertional levels, with these limitations: he is limited to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks consistent with unskilled work. He is limited to low-stress work, defined as work requiring few decisions/changes throughout the workday. He is limited to no public contact and only occasional contact with co-workers and supervisors. He must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards. He can perform work tasks at a standard or ordinary pace but not at a strict production rate pace in which the individual has no control over the speed of the work.
Step four: Plaintiff has no 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.

Tr. 688-707.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Medical evidence

         An ALJ's reasons to discount a contradicted medical opinion must be specific and legitimate. See Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 830-31 (9th Cir. 1996). Plaintiff challenges the ALJ's assessment of certain ...


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