United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
MICHELLE L. PETERSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
seeks review of the denial of her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits. Plaintiff contends the administrative law
judge (“ALJ”) erred at step two, in assessing her
subjective statements, and in crafting the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) assessment. (Dkt. #
11 at 3.) Plaintiff also argues that new evidence submitted
to the Appeals Council undermines the ALJ's decision.
(Id. at 4-6.) 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).
was born in 1968, has an associate's degree, and has
worked as a newspaper circulation manager, customer service
representative, and retail store manager. AR at 836, 1112,
1133-36. Plaintiff was last gainfully employed in April 2015.
Id. at 1112.
2015, Plaintiff applied for benefits, alleging disability as
of April 17, 2015. AR at 1090-96. Plaintiff's application
was denied initially and on reconsideration, and Plaintiff
requested a hearing. Id. at 938-40, 947-51, 956-57.
After the ALJ conducted hearings in November 2016 and August
2017 (id. at 822-901), the ALJ issued a decision
finding Plaintiff not disabled. Id. at 16-29.
the five-step disability evaluation process,  the ALJ found:
Step one: Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since the alleged onset date, April 17, 2015.
Step two: Plaintiff's degenerative disc disease of the
lumbar spine status-post laminectomy with radiculopathy,
cervical spine degenerative joint disorder, fibromyalgia,
chronic pain syndrome, obesity, anxiety disorder, personality
disorder, and somatoform disorder are severe impairments.
Step three: These impairments do not meet or equal the
requirements of a listed impairment.
RFC: Plaintiff can perform light work with additional
limitations: she can never climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds. She can occasionally climb ramps and stairs. She
can frequently balance, crouch, kneel, stoop, and crawl. She
can occasionally reach overhead bilaterally. She must avoid
concentrated exposure to extreme cold, fumes, odors, dusts,
gases, and hazards such as unprotected heights and moving
mechanical parts. She is limited to simple, routine tasks
(those requiring no greater than reasoning level 2). She can
have no public contact and occasional superficial contact
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,