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Neumeister v. Colvin

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

January 23, 2014

SHAWNA M. NEUMEISTER, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, [1] Defendant.

LINDA S. ZISKIN, Ziskin Law Office, Las Vegas, NV, RICHARD A. SLY, Attorney at Law, Portland, OR, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

S. AMANDA MARSHALL, United States Attorney. ADRIAN L. BROWN, Assistant United States Attorney, Portland, OR, DAVID MORADO, Regional Chief Counsel, LEISA A. WOLF, Special Assistant United States Attorneys, Social Security Administration, Seattle, WA, Attorneys for Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

ANNA J. BROWN, District Judge.

Plaintiff Shawna M. Neumeister seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (SSA) in which she denied Plaintiff's applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments under Title XVI.

This Court has jurisdiction to review the Commissioner's decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Following a thorough review of the record, the Court REVERSES the Commissioner's final decision and REMANDS this matter for further administrative proceedings.

ADMINISTRATIVE HISTORY

Plaintiff filed her applications for DIB and SSI on November 6, 2001. Tr. 59, 252, 904. The applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Plaintiff requested a hearing. Tr. 904. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Charles Evans held a hearing on July 31, 2003. Tr. 17. on January 20, 2006, ALJ Evans issued a decision in which he found Plaintiff was not entitled to benefits. Tr. 28. Plaintiff sought review of the decision. Tr. 904. The Appeals Council granted Plaintiff's request and remanded the case for further proceedings. Tr. 904.

ALJ Evans held another hearing on May 18, 2006. Tr. 60. On January 20, 2006, ALJ Evans issued a second decision in which he again found Plaintiff was not entitled to benefits. Tr. 71-72, 904. Plaintiff sought review of the decision for a third time. Tr. 904. The Appeals Council granted Plaintiff's request and remanded the case to ALJ Dan Hyatt for further proceedings. Tr. 904.

ALJ Hyatt held a hearing on July 31, 2007. Tr. 24, 904. On December 8, 2007, ALJ Hyatt issued a third decision in which he found Plaintiff was not entitled to benefits. Tr. 40, 904. Plaintiff sought review of the decision. Tr. 904. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request, and Plaintiff filed an appeal with this Court. Tr. 932 ( Neumeister v. Comm'r Social Security Admin., No. 6:09-cv-00276-TC (D. Or. 2009). Based on a stipulation of the parties filed on May 24, 2010, the Court reversed and remanded the case to the Commissioner for further proceedings pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Tr. 932. In its Order issued on May 25, 2010, the Court directed the ALJ on remand to:

[H]old a de novo hearing, take the following actions, and issue a new decision:
* The ALJ should reassess the medical source opinion evidence, providing legally sufficient reasons for the weight given to each opinion, including but not limited to Drs. Ogisu, Goering, and Gustadisegni;
* Obtain consultative examination from a board certified rheumatologist;
* Re-evaluate the claimant's credibility;
* The ALJ should assess the lay witness testimony;
* The ALJ should assess the claimant's mental and physical residual functional capacity, incorporating all limitations included in the medical evidence that is not specifically rejected.
* The ALJ shall obtain medical expert testimony to assess the complicated combination of impairments and possible pain syndrome with some psychological elements; and
* The ALJ shall obtain vocational expert testimony to assist in determining whether the claimant's limitations affect her ability to perform work related activities at steps 4 and 5 of the sequential evaluation process.

Tr. 932-33.

After the case was remanded by this Court, the Appeals Council returned the case to ALJ Hyatt with instructions to:

(1) give further consideration to the treating and examining source opinions and to explain the weight given to such opinion evidence;
(2) further evaluate lay witness statements;
(3) obtain additional evidence concerning the claimant's rheumatological impairment including a consultative examination and medical source statement "about what the claimant can still do despite the impairment, " if warranted and available;
(4) further evaluate Plaintiff's subjective complaints;
(5) obtain evidence from a medical expert to clarify the nature and severity of Plaintiff's impairments;
(6) obtain evidence from a vocational expert (VE) to clarify the effect of the assessed limitations on ...

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