United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ROBERT L. B., JR., Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
MICHELLE L. PETERSON United States Magistrate Judge
seeks review of the denial of his application for
Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance
Benefits. Plaintiff contends the administrative law judge
(“ALJ”) erred in evaluating the medical opinion
evidence, evaluating Plaintiff's testimony, and in making
step five findings. (Dkt. # 11.) 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. Â§ 405(g).
was born in 1977, has a twelfth-grade education, has attended
community college, and has worked as a dish washer and as a
general laborer. AR at 36, 189, 199, 215. Plaintiff was last
gainfully employed in 2005. Id. at 198.
14, 2015, Plaintiff applied for benefits, alleging disability
as of January 1, 2012. AR at 162-170, 215. Plaintiff's
application was denied initially and on reconsideration, and
Plaintiff requested a hearing. Id. at 58, 67. 90.
After the ALJ conducted a hearing on October 4, 2017, the ALJ
issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled.
Id. at 15-24, 31-57.
the five-step disability evaluation process,  the ALJ found:
Step one: Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since May 29, 2015, the application date.
Step two: Plaintiff has the following severe impairments:
depressive disorder; anxiety disorder; posttraumatic stress
disorder (“PTSD”); and polysubstance abuse, in
remission (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
Step three: These impairments do not meet or equal the
requirements of a listed impairment.
Residual Functional Capacity: Plaintiff can perform a full
range of work at all exertional levels but with the following
nonexertional limitations: he is limited to performing
simple, routine, repetitive tasks with occasional superficial
contact with the general public. Additionally, the claimant
can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and he must
avoid concentrated exposure to workplace hazards, such as
Step four: Plaintiff has no past relevant work.
Step five: As there are jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform,
Plaintiff is not disabled.
AR at 15-24.
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
the ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's final
decision. AR at 1-4. Plaintiff appealed the final decision of
the Commissioner to this Court. (Dkt. # 11.)
42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court may set aside the
Commissioner's denial of social security benefits when
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 (9th Cir.
2005). As a general principle, an ALJ's error may be
deemed harmless where it is “inconsequential to the
ultimate nondisability determination.” Molina v.
Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1115 (9th Cir. 2012) (cited