United States District Court, D. Oregon
THOMAS COFFIN, District Judge.
Plaintiff brings this action for judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying her application for disability insurance benefits.
Plaintiff was 48 years old when the ALJ issued his decision. Plaintiff obtained a high school equivalency diploma and had past relevant work as a deli worker. She alleges disability due to degenerative disc disease and skull tumors that cause headaches. Her alleged onset date is January 1, 2008.
The ALJ found that plaintiff could not perform her past relevant work at step four of the sequential evaluation, but that at step five she could perform jobs such as laboratory equipment cleaner, conveyor tender and snack bar attendant.
As discussed below, the Commissioner's decision is reversed and remanded for an award of benefits.
The ALJ Improperly Rejected Plaintiff's Testimony
A. Plaintiff's Testimony
Plaintiff testified her last full time job was the manager of the Breeze Foundation for Breast Cancer. She worked there for about five years. She had to quit that job due to headaches. She had to close the store about twice a week due to her headaches even though the store was committed to staying open seven days a week.
Plaintiff has had two surgeries to remove bony growths on her skull. The latest was in 2007. She did not receive treatment for her headaches between January 2008 and December 2010 because she did not have medical insurance and she had bad credit due to not paying medical bills. She did not want to add more bills because she could not afford the bills due to the fact she was not working.
During this time she lived with her brother and took care of his children. He gave her room and some board for those services and she received food stamps. At times she could not babysit due to headaches. She had also lived with a friend and cleaned her house.
Plaintiff's main complaint is headaches. During the years plaintiff did not seek medical treatment for her headaches due to a lack of medical insurance, she would take really hot showers which would ease the pain but not make it go away. She would also have to cover her eyes and many times would sit in a dark rom with no noise and lay in bed. Plaintiff has tried over the counter medication which has not helped her.
Since her last surgery, she has noted that her tumors are growing back and that is why she believes her headaches are more frequent. At first, her surgeries reduced her ...