United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
MICHELLE L. PETERSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
seeks review of the partial denial of his application for
Disability Insurance Benefits. Plaintiff contends the
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) erred in (1)
finding that he did not meet or equal Listing 1.04, (2)
discounting his subjective reports of pain, (3) assessing an
opinion of his treating physician, (4) assessing his residual
functional capacity (“RFC”), (5) assessing the
disability rating of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
(“VA”), (6) rejecting the lay testimony, (7)
failing to resolve a discrepancy between the written RFC
assessment and the hypotheticals posed to the vocational
expert (“VE”), and (8) relying on jobs at step
five that do not exist in significant numbers. (Dkt. # 9 at
1-2.) 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).
was born in 1967, has a GED, and has worked as a landscaper
and maintenance technician. AR at 48-49, 242. Plaintiff was
last gainfully employed in December 2015. Id. at
December 31, 2015, Plaintiff protectively applied for
benefits, alleging disability as of December 10, 2015. AR at
214-15. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and
on reconsideration, and Plaintiff requested a hearing.
Id. at 134-40, 142-50. After the ALJ conducted a
hearing on November 9, 2017 (id. at 40-101), the ALJ
issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled.
Id. at 18-32.
Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process,
Step one: Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date.
Step two: Since the alleged onset date, Plaintiff's
cervical spine degenerative disc disease, status post lumbar
spine surgery, lumbar spine spondylolisthesis, posttraumatic
stress disorder, and alcohol dependence were severe
Step three: Since the alleged onset date, these impairments
did not meet or equal the requirements of a listed
RFC: Since the alleged onset date, Plaintiff could perform
sedentary work with additional limitations. He cannot climb
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. He can occasionally climb ramps
and stairs. He can perform postural activities on an
occasional basis. He can occasionally use foot controls
bilaterally. He can occasionally reach overhead bilaterally.
He can have occasional exposure to vibration and extreme cold
temperatures. He must occasionally use a cane to ambulate. He
can understand, remember and apply detailed, not complex,
instructions. He can have occasional interaction with the
general public and co-workers.
Step four: Since the alleged onset date, Plaintiff could not
perform his past relevant work.
Step five: Prior to July 12, 2017, there were jobs that exist
in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff
could perform. He became disabled on July 12, 2017, at which
point he could not ...