United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER REVERSING AND REMANDING DEFENDANT'S
DECISION TO DENY BENEFITS
THERESA L. FRICKE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
has brought this matter for judicial review of
Defendant's denial of her application for disability
parties have consented to have this matter heard by the
undersigned Magistrate Judge. For the reasons set forth
below, the ALJ's decision is reversed and remanded for an
award of benefits as to the period between April 4, 2012 and
March 14, 2015.
ISSUES FOR REVEW
the ALJ err in evaluating Plaintiff's symptom testimony?
the ALJ properly evaluate the medical opinion evidence?
the ALJ err in discounting lay witness testimony?
January 17, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for
disability insurance benefits, alleging a disability onset
date of April 4, 2012. AR 22, 186-87, 819. Plaintiff's
application was denied upon initial administrative review and
on reconsideration. AR 22, 95-98, 107-09, 819. A hearing was
held before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
Virginia M. Robinson on May 15, 2014. AR 38-63, 1037-63. On
June 16, 2014, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was not disabled.
AR 19-32, 935-49. The Social Security Appeals Council denied
Plaintiff's request for review. AR 3-10.
January 11, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking
judicial review of the Commissioner's decision that
Plaintiff was not disabled. AR 898. On September 29, 2016,
this Court reversed and remanded the case for further
consideration of Plaintiff's testimony and the medical
opinion evidence. AR 881-95, 900-03, 927.
another hearing, the ALJ issued a partially favorable
decision on August 27, 2018 finding that Plaintiff was
disabled as of June 8, 2016. AR 815-38, 850-80. On December
22, 2018, Plaintiff filed the current complaint in this Court
Plaintiff asks for a finding that Plaintiff was disabled
between April 2012 and March 2015 and an award of benefits;
in the alternative, Plaintiff requests a remand for further
proceedings. Dkt. 1, Dkt. 10, p. 19.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court will uphold an ALJ's decision unless: (1) the
decision is based on legal error; or (2) the decision is not
supported by substantial evidence. Revels v.
Berryhill, 874 F.3d 648, 654 (9th Cir. 2017).
Substantial evidence is “‘such relevant evidence
as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.'” Biestek v. Berryhill, 139
S.Ct. 1148, 1154 (2019). This requires “more than a
mere scintilla” of evidence. Id.
Court must consider the administrative record as a whole.
Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1009 (9th Cir.
2014). The Court is required to weigh both the evidence that
supports, and evidence that does not support, the ALJ's
conclusion. Id. The Court may not affirm the
decision of the ALJ for a reason upon which the ALJ did not
rely. Id. Only the reasons identified by the ALJ are
considered in the scope of the Court's review.
Commissioner uses a five-step sequential evaluation process
to determine if a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520. At step one of the sequential evaluation, the ALJ
must determine whether the claimant is engaging in
substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1594(f)(1). Step two of the administration's
evaluation process requires the ALJ to determine if the
claimant “has a medically severe impairment or
combination of impairments.” Smolen v. Chater,
80 F.3d 1273, 1289-90 (9th Cir. 1996) (citation omitted); 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(ii).
three of the sequential evaluation, the ALJ must evaluate the
claimant's impairments to decide whether they meet or
medically equal any of the impairments listed in 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. 20 C.F.R § 404.1520(d);
Tackett v. Apfel, 180 F.3d 1094, 1098 (9th ...