Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Phelps v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Oregon

January 22, 2018

JEFFREY P. PHELPS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOLIE A. RUSSO United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Jeffrey Phelps brings this action for judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying his application for Title II Disability Insurance Benefits. All parties have consented to allow a Magistrate Judge 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 remanded for the immediate payment of benefits.

         BACKGROUND

         Born in 1965, plaintiff alleges disability beginning March 9, 2012, due to fibromyalgia, hemochromatosis, hypertension, and back, neck, and shoulder problems. Tr. 65-69, 177, 198.[1]On July 8, 2015, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) issued a decision finding plaintiff not disabled. Tr. 45-53. After the Appeals Council denied his request for review, plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court. Tr. 1-6.

         THE ALJ'S FINDINGS

         At step one, the ALJ found plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date. Tr. 47. At step two, the ALJ determined the following impairments were medically determinable and severe: “degenerative disc disease of the spine, degenerative joint disease of the shoulders, obesity, and fibromyalgia.” 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. 48.

         The ALJ next resolved plaintiff had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work except:

He is further limited to no climbing of ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, no crawling, occasional climbing of ramps and stairs, stooping, crouching, kneeling, occasional overhead reaching, frequent reaching in other directions, and frequent fingering and handling.

Tr. 48.

         At step four, the ALJ concluded plaintiff could perform his past relevant work as a project administrative coordinator. Tr. 52.

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff argues the ALJ erred by: (1) discrediting his subjective symptom testimony; (2) failing “to mention, or assign weight to the medical opinions of treating physicians David C. Koon, M.D., Daniel Sager, M.D., and Ira Weintraub, M.D.”; and (3) rejecting the lay medical opinion of nurse practitioner Mary Kathryn Thompson. Pl.'s Opening Br. 4-5 (doc. 12). The Commissioner concedes harmful legal error in regard to all issues raised by plaintiff. Def.'s Resp. Br. 3 (doc. 20). As such, the sole issue on review is the proper legal remedy.

         Plaintiff contends his subjective symptom statements should be credited as true and that this case should be remanded for the immediate payment of benefits given the vocational expert's (“VE”) testimony. Pl.'s Opening Br. 34-35 (doc. 12). Conversely, the Commissioner asserts further proceedings are warranted because the medical record is ambiguous, the ALJ did not reach step five, and, “[e]ven if the Court credited the relevant medical evidence, there still is the slightest uncertainty of disability.” Def.'s Resp. Br. 4-6 (doc. 20).

         The decision whether to remand for further proceedings or for the immediate payment of benefits lies within the discretion of the court. Treichler v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin.,775 F.3d 1090, 1101-02 (9th Cir. 2014). Nevertheless, a remand for an award of benefits is generally appropriate when: (1) the ALJ failed to provide legally sufficient reasons for rejecting evidence; (2) the record has been fully developed, there are no outstanding issues that must be resolved, and further administrative proceedings would not be useful; and (3) after crediting the relevant evidence, “the record, taken as a whole, leaves not the slightest uncertainty” concerning ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.