Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Michael L. v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

June 25, 2019

MICHAEL L., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER AFFIRMING DENIAL OF BENEFITS

          JAMES L. ROBART UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Michael L. seeks review of the denial of his application for disability insurance benefits. (See Compl. (Dkt. # 3).) Plaintiff contends that the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred by (1) failing to find Plaintiff's seizure disorder a severe impairment at step two of the disability evaluation process, (2) failing to properly evaluate Plaintiff's symptom testimony, (3) failing to properly evaluate the medical evidence, and (4) failing to properly evaluate the lay witness statements of Plaintiff's mother. (Pl. Op. Br. (Dkt. # 13) at 1-2.) As discussed below, the court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's decision and DISMISSES this case with prejudice.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         This is the second time this case is before the court. Plaintiff filed an application for disability benefits on May 29, 2012, alleging that his disability began in March 2002. (See Admin. Record (“AR”) (Dkt. # 7) at 155-61.) Plaintiff later amended his alleged disability onset date to December 30, 2010. (Id. at 38.) Plaintiff alleged that he was disabled due to severe headaches and neurologic impairments stemming from an epidural hematoma he suffered in March 2002. (See Id. at 77, 383.)

         Plaintiff's claims were denied on initial review and on reconsideration. (Id. at 67-89.) ALJ John Rolph conducted a hearing on Plaintiff's claims on March 31, 2014. (Id. at 33-65.) On April 25, 2014, ALJ Rolph issued a decision denying Plaintiff benefits. (Id. at 17-27.) The Appeals Council denied review. (Id. at 1-3.)

         On July 28, 2016, U.S. Magistrate Judge David Christel issued a decision reversing ALJ Rolph's decision and remanding the matter for further proceedings. (Id. at 534-44.) Magistrate Judge Christel held that the ALJ had failed to fully develop the record because the impartial medical expert who testified at the hearing, James Haynes, M.D., opined that Plaintiff needed a neurological evaluation to determine his status. (Id. at 536-40.) Magistrate Judge Christel further held that the ALJ had failed to give adequate reasons to reject Plaintiff's mother's lay witness statements. (Id. at 540-42.) Finally, Magistrate Judge Christel held that because the ALJ erred in failing to fully develop the record, the ALJ's decision to discount Plaintiff's testimony at least in part based on the medical evidence must be reconsidered. (Id. at 542-43.)

         On remand, ALJ Rudolph Murgo conducted a hearing at which Plaintiff and a vocational expert testified. (Id. at 494-506.) On August 2, 2017, ALJ Murgo issued a decision again denying Plaintiff disability benefits. (Id. at 469-86.) ALJ Murgo determined that Plaintiff last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act (the “Act”) on December 31, 2013. (Id. at 472.)

         B. The ALJ's Decision

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520, ALJ Murgo found:

Step one: Plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from his alleged onset date of December 30, 2010, through his date last insured of December 31, 2013. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1571-76.
Step two: Through the date last insured, Plaintiff had the following severe impairments: Status post head trauma and posterior craniotomy with residual headaches, hand tremor, and cognitive disorder not otherwise specified. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c).
Step three: Through the date last insured, Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled 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
Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”): Through the date last insured, Plaintiff could perform the full range of work at all exertional levels, but with limitations. He should avoid exposure to industrial chemicals, irregular or unprotected surfaces, heights, hazards, and heavy equipment. He cannot climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. He cannot drive motor vehicles. He is limited to simple, routine tasks, and special vocational preparation (“SVP”) level one or two type tasks.
Step four: Through the date last insured, Plaintiff could not perform any past relevant work. See 20 C.F.R. ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.