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Kayleen K. v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

September 19, 2019

KAYLEEN K., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          MICHELLE L. PETERSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff seeks review of the denial of her application for Supplemental Security Income. Plaintiff contends the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) erred in crediting a non-examining physician’s opinion over opinions written by a treating physician. (Dkt. # 10 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).

         II. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff was born in 1984, has one year of college education and vocational training as a nursing assistant and medical assistant, and has worked as a nursing assistant and fitness assistant. AR at 197, 446. Plaintiff was last employed in mid-2017. Id. at 199.

         In September 2015, Plaintiff applied for benefits, alleging disability as of February 19, 2004.[1] AR at 216, 378-83. Plaintiff’s application was denied initially and on reconsideration, and Plaintiff requested a hearing. Id. at 228-36, 240-49. After the ALJ conducted a hearing on April 17, 2018 (id. at 181-207), the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. Id. at 164-74.

Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [2] the ALJ found:
Step one: Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 10, 2015, the application date.
Step two: Plaintiff’s lumbar spine degenerative disc disease, status-post multiple lumbar spine surgeries, including disc replacement, removal, and fusion, is a severe impairment.
Step three: This impairment does not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[3]
Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”): Plaintiff can lift/carry 10 pounds occasionally and frequently. She can stand/walk two hours and sit for six hours, out of an eight-hour workday. She can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, but cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can frequently balance. She can occasionally stoop, kneel, and crouch. She can never crawl. She must avoid moderate exposure to vibrations and hazards, such as moving machinery and unprotected heights.
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, ...

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