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Suzanne K. v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

December 6, 2019

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

          ORDER REVERSING THE COMMISSIONER'S FINAL DECISION AND REMANDING THE CASE FOR FURTHER ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff seeks review of the denial of her application for disability insurance benefits. Plaintiff contends the ALJ erred by rejecting the opinions of treating doctors Ronald Graf, M.D., and Urooj Jaffer, M.D. Pl. Op. Br. (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).

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is 56 years old, has a high school education, and has worked as an insurance clerk, billing clerk, and accounting clerk. Admin. Record (“AR”) (Dkt. 8) 24, 36, 187. Plaintiff applied for benefits on January 28, 2016, alleging disability as of September 17, 2015. AR 66, 165-66. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. AR 66-95. After the ALJ conducted a hearing on November 21, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. AR 15-25.

         THE ALJ'S DECISION

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [1] the ALJ found:

Step one: Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 17, 2015, the alleged onset date.
Step two: Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: Type I diabetes, stage III chronic kidney disease and status post-kidney transplant, major depressive disorder, panic disorder, and diabetic retinopathy.
Step three: These impairments do not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[2]
Residual Functional Capacity: Plaintiff can perform light work with limitations. She can frequently climb ramps and stairs, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can occasionally reach overhead with her left non-dominant arm. She can never be exposed to excessive noise. She cannot perform fine detail work. She can frequently read. She can work in an environment free of fast-paced production requirements. She can have only normal, routine work place changes. She can only have occasional interaction with the public.
Step four: Plaintiff can perform past relevant work as an insurance clerk, billing clerk, and accounting clerk. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by Plaintiff's RFC. Plaintiff is therefore not disabled.
Step five: The ALJ did not reach step five.

AR 15-25. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the ...


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