United States District Court, D. Oregon
JESSICA A. EDEN, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael J. McShane United States District Judge
Jessica Eden brings this action for judicial review of a
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying
her application for disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income. The Court has jurisdiction
under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3). Because
the Commissioner's decision is not based on substantial
evidence, this Court orders the Commissioner's decision
reversed. Because the record has been fully developed and the
record, taken as a whole, leaves no doubt that the claimant
would be disabled if the relevant evidence were found
credible, the case is remanded for immediate award for
Eden filed for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental
Security Income, alleging disability as of November 11, 2012.
Tr. 164-166; 167-172. Denied initially and on
reconsideration, Ms. Eden requested a hearing. Tr. 112-126.
After a hearing on October 22, 2015, the ALJ issue a decision
on November 6, 2015 denying the claim. Tr. 17-35. Appeals
Council denied review making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the agency. Tr. 2-7.
one, the ALJ found that Ms. Eden has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since November 11, 2012. Tr. 22.
At step two, the ALJ found the claimant has the following
severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar
spine with radiculopathy, L5-S1 lumbar spondylosis, and
foraminal stenosis; lumbar post-laminectomy syndrome;
dyspnea, NOS with bronchitis; and obesity. Tr. 22.
three, the ALJ found that the claimant does not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. part 404, subpart P, app. 1. Tr. 24.
four, the ALJ found Ms. Eden to have the residual functional
capacity to perform sedentary work, lifting ten pounds
occasionally and less than ten pounds frequently. Tr. 24. She
can, in an eight-hour day, sit for six hours, stand for two
hours, walk for two hours, but needs the option to stand for
10 minutes each hour while remaining on task. Tr. 24. She can
perform simple, routine tasks, which require only simple
work-related decisions. Tr. 25. At step five, the ALJ
concluded that Ms. Eden is unable to perform any past work,
but retains the ability to work as a clerical checker, an
officer helper, or an inspector (photofinishing). Tr. 28-29.
Current posture of the issues
Eden contends that the ALJ's decision is not based on
substantial evidence as required by 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Specifically, Ms. Eden assigns err to: (1) the ALJ's
failure to give clear and convincing reasons for rejecting
Plaintiff's testimony, (2) the ALJ's consideration of
claimant's treating neurosurgeon and treating
physician's assistant, and (3) the ALJ's failure to
meet the burden to prove that Plaintiff retains the ability
to perform “other work” in the national economy.
Pl.'s Br. 1-2, ECF No. 19.
Commissioner, in Defendant's brief, concedes that the
ALJ's decision is not supported by substantial evidence
and further concedes the ALJ erred in (1) evaluating the
opinion of Mark Wells, P.A.-C; (2) in not weighing the
opinions of treating physician Carmina Angeles, M.D.; and (3)
in discounting Plaintiff's subjective testimony.
Def's Br. 1-2, ECF No. 23; see Pl.'s Br. at
9-16. The Commissioner requests that this Court remand for
further proceedings, and not for an award of benefits.
Def.'s Br. 1-2. Defendant argues the record does not
unambiguously establish that Plaintiff is disabled, and that
the ALJ should be afforded the opportunity to resolve
outstanding evidentiary conflicts and to further develop the
the ALJ's final decision is not supported by substantial
evidence, the reviewing court has the discretion to reverse
and remand either for further proceedings or for an award of
disability benefits. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Holohan v.
Massanari, 246 F.3d 1195, 1210 (9th Cir. 2001). This
discretion is constrained in that the Social Security Act
authorizes payment of benefits only for individuals
“under a disability.” 42 U.S.C. §
Treichler v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., the Ninth
Circuit held it may be permissible for a court to make a