United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
A. RUSSO UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Sharon Wheat brings this action for judicial review of the
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) denying her applications for
Title II Disability Insurance Benefits and Title XVI Social
Security Income. All parties have consented to allow a
Magistrate Judge to enter final orders and judgment in this
case in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. 73 and 28 U.S.C. §
636(c). For the reasons set forth below, the
Commissioner's decision is reversed and this case is
remanded for further proceedings.
1969, plaintiff alleges disability beginning September 21,
2010, due to memory loss related to a stroke, anxiety,
nonverbal learning disorder, high blood pressure, and eczema.
Tr. 210, 212, 242, 245. On January 21, 2015, the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) issued a
decision finding plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 21-34. After the
Appeals Council denied her request for review, plaintiff
filed a complaint in this Court. Tr. 1-5.
one, the ALJ found plaintiff had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since the alleged onset date. Tr. 23. At
step two, the ALJ determined the following impairments were
medically determinable and severe: “organic mental
disorder and affective disorder.” Id. At step
three, the ALJ found that plaintiff's impairments, either
singly or in combination, did not meet or equal the
requirements of a listed impairment. Tr. 24.
next resolved plaintiff had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform medium work as follows:
She can lift and/or carry 50 pounds occasionally and 25
pounds frequently in an eight-hour workday. She can stand
and/or walk for six hours and sit for six hours in an
eight-hour workday. She must avoid concentrated exposure to
extreme cold, extreme heat, and humidity. She can perform
simple routine tasks that consist of Specific Vocational
Preparation (SVP) 1 or 2 type tasks. She can have occasional
contact with co-workers and the public. She is unable to
perform work activity that requires a fast-paced assembly
four, the ALJ found that plaintiff was unable to perform any
past relevant work. Tr. 32. At step five, the ALJ concluded
plaintiff could perform a significant number of jobs in the
national and local economy despite her impairments, such as
small products assembler, housekeeping cleaner, and garment
sorter. Tr. 33.
argues the ALJ erred by: (1) mistreating medical evidence
from Jill Spendal, Psy.D., Luahna Ude, Ph.D., and Joshua
Boyd, Ph.D.; (2) rejecting the lay statement of her sister,
Debra Zahrowski; and (3) failing to resolve an ambiguity in
the vocational expert's (“VE”) testimony.
Medical Opinion Evidence
contends the ALJ wrongfully discredited mental health
evidence from Drs. Spendal, Ude, and Boyd. There are three
types of acceptable medical opinions in Social Security
cases: those from treating, examining, and non-examining
doctors. Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 830 (9th
Cir. 1995). The opinions of examining physicians are
generally accorded greater weight than the opinions of
non-examining physicians. Id. (citations omitted).
To reject the uncontroverted opinion of an examining doctor,
the ALJ must present clear and convincing reasons supported
by substantial evidence. Id. (citation omitted). If
an examining doctor's ...