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Margaret L. P. v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

June 4, 2019

MARGARET L. P., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

          MICHELLE L. PETERSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff seeks review of the denial of her application for Disability Insurance Benefits. Plaintiff contends the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) erred by improperly evaluating the medical evidence; rejecting Plaintiff's testimony; and assessing Plaintiff's residual functional capacity (“RFC”). (Dkt. # 11.) As discussed below, the Court REVERSES the Commissioner's final decision and REMANDS the matter for further administrative proceedings under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was born in 1977, has a high school education as well as beautician training, and has worked as a hairdresser. AR at 756, 780. Plaintiff was last gainfully employed at a salon in 2010. Id. at 43, 46.

         On January 2012, Plaintiff applied for benefits, alleging disability as of December 30, 2009. AR at 22. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration, and Plaintiff requested a hearing. Id. at 67-81. During her first administrative hearing, Plaintiff amended her alleged onset date to February 23, 2009. Id. at 22, 40-41, 257. Her date last insured is December 21, 2009. Id. at 750. The ALJ conducted a hearing on September 12, 2013 (AR at 39-66), and subsequently issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. Id. at 16-37. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, and Plaintiff appealed to this Court. Id.at 1-5.

         By Order dated July 27, 2016, the Honorable Ricardo S. Martinez reversed and remanded the case for further administrative proceedings. AR at 795-811. Specifically, Judge Martinez directed that the ALJ reevaluate Plaintiff's credibility, reassess and determine the RFC, and reevaluate steps four and five. Id. at 810.

         A second hearing was held on March 1, 2017. AR at 764-85. On March 22, 2017, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled.

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

Step one: Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of February 23, 2009 through her date last insured of December 31, 2009.
Step two: Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease and compression fracture of the spine, headaches, and lymphoma.
Step three: These impairments do not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[2]
Residual Functional Capacity: Plaintiff can perform light work except she can stand and walk for four hours in an eight-hour day; sit for six hours in an eight hour day; never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, occasionally climb ramps and stairs, and occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl.
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, Plaintiff is not disabled.

AR at 744-62.

         As the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review, the ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's final decision. AR at 738-42. Plaintiff appealed the final ...


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