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Teri R. v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

January 14, 2020

TERI R., Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER REVERSING THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION

          BRIAN A. TSUCHIDA, CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff seeks review of the denial of her applications for Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits. She contends the ALJ erred in assessing the medical evidence, her subjective testimony, and statements written by her girlfriend.[1] 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. § 405(g).

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is currently 34 years old, has a high school diploma, and has worked as a general laborer. Tr. 446. In April 2015, she applied for benefits, alleging disability as of December 2, 2014. Tr. 408-15. Her applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Tr. 248-55, 258-69. The ALJ conducted a hearing on December 15, 2017 (Tr. 123-57), and subsequently found Plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 15-29. As the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, the ALJ's decision is the Commissioner's final decision. Tr. 1-6.

         THE ALJ'S DECISION

         Utilizing the five-step disability evaluation process, [2] the ALJ found:

Step one: Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date.
Step two: Plaintiff's affective disorder, anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder, history of obesity, and degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine are severe impairments.
Step three: These impairments did not meet or equal the requirements of a listed impairment.[3]
RFC: Plaintiff can perform light work, with additional limitations: she needs a sit/stand alternating option. She can stand/walk for no more than two hours at one time for four out of eight hours in a workday. She cannot work in a dangerous industrial setting, around unprotected heights, or a very noisy setting. She can engage in work-related routine and perfunctory social interaction, but will not be well suited for higher level or sophisticated social interaction.
Step four: Plaintiff could not perform her past work.
Step five: As there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff can perform, she is not disabled.

Tr. ...


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