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.

Tami W. v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

July 29, 2019

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

          ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING DEFENDANT'S DECISION TO DENY BENEFITS

          DAVID W. CHRISTEL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff filed this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), for judicial review of Defendant's denial of Plaintiff's applications for supplemental security income (“SSI”) and disability insurance benefits (“DIB”). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73 and Local Rule MJR 13, the parties have consented to have this matter heard by the undersigned Magistrate Judge. See Dkt. 2.

         After considering the record, the Court concludes the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred when he failed to provide specific, legitimate reasons supported by substantial evidence for discounting the opinion of examining psychiatrist Dr. Rahul Khurana. Had the ALJ properly considered this opinion, the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) may have included additional limitations. The ALJ's error is therefore harmful, and this matter is reversed and remanded pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to the Social Security Commissioner (“Commissioner”) for further proceedings consistent with this Order.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On January 31, 2014, Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI, alleging a disability onset date of December 31, 2009. See Dkt. 8, Administrative Record (“AR”) 17, 258-59, 260-68. Her applications were denied upon initial administrative review and on reconsideration. AR 171-74, 178-80, 181-83. A hearing was held before ALJ Eric S. Basse on January 27, 2017. AR 55-111. In a decision dated July 13, 2017, ALJ Basse determined Plaintiff to be not disabled. AR 14-30. The Social Security Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on August 8, 2018. AR 1-7. As such, the ALJ's decision is the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.

         In Plaintiff's Opening Brief, Plaintiff maintains the ALJ erred by failing to properly assess opinion evidence from Rahul Khurana, M.D., David Widlan, Ph.D., Faulder Colby, Ph.D., and Frederica Overstreet, M.D. Dkt. 12, pp. 3-14. Plaintiff requests the Court remand her claims for an award of benefits. Id. at 16-17.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court may set aside the Commissioner's denial of social security benefits if 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) (citing Tidwell v. Apfel, 161 F.3d 599, 601 (9th Cir. 1999)).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Whether the ALJ properly evaluated the medical opinion evidence.

         Plaintiff maintains the ALJ failed to properly consider opinion evidence from Dr. Khurana, Dr. Widlan, Dr. Colby, and Dr. Overstreet. Dkt. 12, pp. 3-14.

         In assessing an acceptable medical source, an ALJ must provide “clear and convincing” reasons for rejecting the uncontradicted opinion of either a treating or examining physician. Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 830 (9th Cir. 1995) (citing Pitzer v. Sullivan, 908 F.2d 502, 506 (9th Cir. 1990)); Embrey v. Bowen, 849 F.2d 418, 422 (9th Cir. 1988)). When a treating or examining physician's opinion is contradicted, the opinion can be rejected “for specific and legitimate reasons that are supported by substantial evidence in the record.” Lester, 81 F.3d at 830-31 (citing Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1043 (9th Cir. 1995); Murray v. Heckler, 722 F.2d 499, 502 (9th Cir. 1983)). The ALJ can accomplish this by “setting out a detailed and thorough summary of the facts and conflicting clinical evidence, stating his interpretation thereof, and making findings.” Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 725 (9th Cir. 1998) (citing Magallanes v. Bowen, 881 F.2d 747, 751 (9th Cir. 1989)).

         A. Dr. Khurana

         Plaintiff argues that the ALJ failed to properly assess an opinion from examining ...


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.