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John C. v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

September 23, 2019

JOHN C., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER

          MICHELLE L. PETERSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff seeks review of the denial of his application for Disability Insurance Benefits. Plaintiff contends the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) erred in assessing the medical evidence, and in discounting his testimony and his wife's testimony. (Dkt. # 8.) 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 1975, has a high school diploma, and has worked in an auto repair shop and a boat dealership. AR at 254. Plaintiff was last gainfully employed in September 2007. Id.

         In November 2015, Plaintiff applied for benefits, alleging disability as of September 1, 2007. AR at 15, 233-34. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and on reconsideration, and Plaintiff requested a hearing. Id. at 123-25, 127-28, 131-32. After the ALJ conducted hearings in May and October 2017 (id. at 29-107), the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled before his date last insured (“DLI”) of December 31, 2012. Id. at 15-24.

Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [1] the ALJ found:
Step one: Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity between his alleged onset date (September 1, 2007) and his DLI.
Step two: Through the DLI, Plaintiff's multiple sclerosis was a severe impairment.
Step three: Through the DLI, this impairment did not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[2]
Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”): Through the DLI, Plaintiff could have performed sedentary work with additional limitations: he could not have climbed ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, and could have occasionally climbed ramps and stairs, balanced, stooped, crouched, crawled, and kneeled. He could have tolerated occasional exposure to vibration and temperature and humidity extremes, but could not have been exposed to hazards such as open water, open flame, open heights, and open machinery. He could not have engaged in commercial driving. He could have occasionally used bilateral foot controls and could have performed frequent, but not continuous, handling and fingering bilaterally.
Step four: Through the DLI, Plaintiff could not have performed any past relevant work.
Step five: As there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could have performed through the DLI, Plaintiff ...

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