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Dennis T. v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

January 8, 2020

DENNIS T., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER'S FINAL DECISION AND DISMISSING THE CASE WITH PREJUDICE

          Honorable Richard A. Jones, United States District Judge

         Plaintiff seeks review of the denial of his applications for supplemental security income and disability insurance benefits. Plaintiff contends the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) erred by (1) failing to fully accept any of the medical opinions in the record, and therefore basing the physical limitations of Plaintiff's residual functional capacity (“RFC”) on the ALJ's own lay medical opinions, and (2) rejecting the opinions of examining doctor Jai Ghandi, M.D. Pl. Op. Br. (Dkt. 10) at 1. As discussed below, the Court AFFIRMS the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) and DISMISSES this case with prejudice.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is 43 years old, has a master's degree, and has worked as a case manager, and customer service relations analyst, among other things. See Admin. Record (“AR”) 39, 47-48, 78. Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits on January 23, 2016, and supplemental security income benefits on July 20, 2016, alleging disability as of July 24, 2014. AR 78, 95, 213-14, 217-23. Plaintiff later amended the alleged onset date to November 15, 2015. AR 47. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. AR 77-121. After the ALJ conducted a hearing on November 16, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled. AR 15-24.

         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 November 15, 2015, the amended alleged onset date.
Step two: Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: Degenerative disc disease, status post-surgery; lumbar post-laminectomy syndrome with stenosis and radiculopathy; degenerative joint disease of the hips, right greater than left and reportedly status post-replacement after Plaintiff's date last insured; and obesity.
Step three: These impairments do not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[2]
RFC: Plaintiff can perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a), with additional limitations. He can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. He can occasionally climb ramps and stairs. He can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. He can have occasional exposure to vibrations and hazards such as heights and machinery.
Step four: Plaintiff is capable of performing past relevant work as a telephone solicitor. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by Plaintiff's RFC.
Step five: Plaintiff is capable of performing other jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy, such as document preparer, bench hand, and food and beverage order clerk. Plaintiff is therefore not disabled.

AR 15-24. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the ...


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