United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING DENIAL OF
L. Robart, United States District Judge.
Daniel G. seeks review of the denial of his application for
supplemental security income and disability insurance
benefits. (See Compl. (Dkt. # 3).) Plaintiff
contends that the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) erred by (1) improperly rejecting
Plaintiff's symptom testimony, and (2) improperly
evaluating the medical evidence. (Pl. Op. Br. (Dkt. # 19) at
1.) 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).
THE ALJ'S DECISION
the five-step disability evaluation process, 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520, 416.920, the ALJ found:
Step one: Plaintiff has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since November 13, 2014, the
alleged onset date. See 20 C.F.R §§
Step two: Plaintiff has the following severe
impairments: Degenerative disc disease with moderate lumbar
changes, anxiety related disorders, and moderate level
obesity. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c),
Step three: Plaintiff does not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525,
404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925, 416.926.
Residual Functional Capacity
(“RFC”): Plaintiff can perform medium
work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(c) and
416.967(c). He needs regular work hours and access to a
bathroom at the work place for scheduled breaks. He cannot be
subjected to unusual work stressors. He can engage in routine
and perfunctory social interactions. He can take instructions
from a supervisor and respond appropriately. He should not
perform jobs that require higher level social interaction
skills and/or being part of an intense collaborative project.
He cannot do commercial driving.
Step four: Plaintiff cannot perform past
relevant work. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1565,
Step five: Considering Plaintiff's age,
education, work experience, and RFC, there are jobs that
existed in significant numbers in the national economy that
Plaintiff can perform. See 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1569, 404.1569(a), 416.969, 416.969(a).
(Admin. Record (“AR”) (Dkt. # 9) at 24-40.) Based
on these findings, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not been
under a disability, as defined by the Social Security Act
(“Act”), from November 13, 2014, through the date
of the ALJ's decision. (Id. at 40.) The Appeals
Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the
ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision.
(See Id. at 1-4.)
bears the burden of proving he is disabled within the meaning
of the Act. See Meanel v. Apfel, 172 F.3d 1111, 1113
(9th Cir. 1999). Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), the
court may only set aside a denial of social security benefits
when 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 (9th
Cir. 2005). The ALJ is responsible for determining
credibility, resolving conflicts in medical testimony, and
resolving any other ambiguities that exist. Andrews v.
Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 1995). While the
court is required to examine the entire record, it may
neither reweigh the evidence nor substitute its judgment for
that of the ALJ. See Thomas v. Barnhart, 278 F.3d
947, 954 (9th Cir. 2002).
The ALJ Did Not Harmfully Err in Discounting ...