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Naggeye v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

August 20, 2014

KAHA F. NAGGEYE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant

Page 1137

For Kaha F. Naggeye, Plaintiff: James S. Coon, LEAD ATTORNEY, Swanson Thomas Coon & Newton, Portland, OR.

For Commissioner Social Security Administration, Defendant: Adrian L. Brown, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Oregon, Portland, OR; Daphne Banay, LEAD ATTORNEY, Social Security Administration, Seattle, WA.

Page 1138

OPINION AND ORDER

Michael McShane, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff brings this action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to obtain judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying plaintiff's claim for supplemental security income benefits. The Commissioner's decision is REVERSED and REMANDED for a payment of benefits with a disability onset date of September 28, 2006.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed an initial application for benefits claiming disability as of September 28, 2006. After a hearing, the administrative law judge (ALJ) found the plaintiff not disabled. Plaintiff appealed to this Court, where the Commissioner conceded errors by the ALJ required remand for further proceedings. The ALJ improperly rejected the lay testimony of plaintiff's daughter, misapplied the standard as to determining the plaintiff's credibility, and erred in weighing the opinion of plaintiff's treating physician. TR 543.[1] Judge Aiken remanded the case for further proceedings. During this time, plaintiff filed a separate application for disability. The Commissioner approved this second application and the ALJ found the plaintiff disabled as of March 31, 2010.

This case concerns review of the ALJ's findings on remand regarding plaintiff's claim of disability as of September 28, 2006. Plaintiff assigns three errors by the ALJ: 1) errors in weighing the conclusions and opinions of plaintiff's treating psychiatrist; 2) insufficient reasoning to reject the plaintiff's testimony; and 3) insufficient reasoning to reject the lay testimony of plaintiff's daughter. Plaintiff argues that this Court should remand for payment of benefits. The Commissioner agrees the ALJ erred, but seeks remand for further proceedings.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The reviewing court shall affirm the Commissioner's decision if the decision is based on proper legal standards and the legal findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Batson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004) . " Substantial evidence is 'more than a mere scintilla but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'" Hill v. Astrue, 698 F.3d 1153, 1159 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Sandgathe v. Chater, 108 F.3d 978, 980 (9th Cir. 1997)). To determine whether substantial evidence exists, we review the administrative record as a whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and that which detracts from the ALJ's conclusion. Davis v. Heckler, 868 F.2d 323, 326 (9th Cir. 1989). " If the evidence can reasonably support either affirming or reversing, 'the reviewing court may not substitute its judgment' for that of the Commissioner." Gutierrez v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 740 F.3d 519, 523 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720-21 (9th Cir. 1996)).

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

The tragic origins of this ...


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