Greta Verrett-Briley v. Commissioner of SSA

Filing 31

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER by Magistrate Judge Suzanne H. Segal. IT IS ORDERED that Judgment be entered REVERSING the decision of the Commissioner and REMANDING this matter for further proceedings consistent with this decision. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of the Court serve copies of this Order and the Judgment on counsel for both parties. (See document for further details). (mr)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 GRETTA VERRETT-BRILEY, Plaintiff, 12 13 14 15 CASE NO. CV 17-2196 SS v. NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER Defendant. 16 17 18 I. 19 INTRODUCTION 20 21 Gretta Verrett-Briley (“Plaintiff”) seeks review of the final 22 decision 23 “Commissioner” or “Agency”) denying her application for social 24 security benefits. 25 § 636(c), to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States 26 Magistrate Judge. 27 below, the decision of the Commissioner is REVERSED and this case 28 of the Acting Commissioner of Social Security (the The parties consented, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. (Dkt. Nos. 11, 13, 14). For the reasons stated 1 is REMANDED for further administrative proceedings consistent with 2 this decision. 3 4 II. 5 THE FIVE-STEP SEQUENTIAL EVALUATION PROCESS 6 7 To qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must 8 demonstrate a medically determinable physical or mental impairment 9 that prevents the claimant from engaging in substantial gainful 10 activity and that is expected to result in death or to last for a 11 continuous period of at least twelve months. 12 157 F.3d 715, 721 (9th Cir. 1998) (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A)). 13 The impairment must render the claimant incapable of performing 14 work 15 employment that exists in the national economy. 16 180 17 § 423(d)(2)(A)). previously F.3d performed 1094, 1098 or (9th any Cir. other 1999) Reddick v. Chater, substantial gainful Tackett v. Apfel, (citing 42 U.S.C. 18 19 To decide if a claimant is entitled to benefits, an ALJ 20 conducts a five-step inquiry. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920. 21 The steps are: 22 23 (1) Is the claimant presently engaged in substantial gainful 24 activity? 25 not, proceed to step two. 26 (2) Is the If so, the claimant is found not disabled. claimant’s impairment 27 claimant is found not disabled. 28 three. 2 severe? If not, If the If so, proceed to step 1 (3) Does the claimant’s impairment meet or equal one of the 2 specific impairments described in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, 3 Subpart P, Appendix 1? 4 disabled. 5 (4) If so, the claimant is found If not, proceed to step four. Is the claimant capable of performing his past work? If 6 so, the claimant is found not disabled. 7 to step five. 8 (5) 9 Is the claimant able to do any other work? claimant is found disabled. 10 If not, proceed If not, the If so, the claimant is found not disabled. 11 12 Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098-99; see also Bustamante v. Massanari, 13 262 F.3d 949, 953-54 (9th Cir. 2001); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b)- 14 (g)(1), 416.920(b)-(g)(1). 15 16 The claimant has the burden of proof at steps one through four 17 and the 18 Bustamante, 262 F.3d at 953-54. 19 affirmative duty to assist the claimant in developing the record 20 at every step of the inquiry. 21 claimant meets his or her burden of establishing an inability to 22 perform past work, the Commissioner must show that the claimant 23 can perform some other work that exists in “significant numbers” 24 in 25 residual functional capacity (“RFC”), age, education, and work 26 experience. 27 721; 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(g)(1), 416.920(g)(1). 28 may do so by the testimony of a VE or by reference to the Medical- the Commissioner national has economy, the burden of at step five. Additionally, the ALJ has an Id. at 954. taking proof into If, at step four, the account the claimant’s Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1098, 1100; Reddick, 157 F.3d at 3 The Commissioner 1 Vocational Guidelines appearing in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, 2 Appendix 2 (commonly known as “the grids”). 3 240 F.3d 1157, 1162 (9th Cir. 2001). 4 exertional (strength-related) and non-exertional limitations, the 5 Grids are inapplicable and the ALJ must take the testimony of a 6 vocational expert (“VE”). 7 Cir. 2000) (citing Burkhart v. Bowen, 856 F.2d 1335, 1340 (9th Cir. 8 1988)). Osenbrock v. Apfel, When a claimant has both Moore v. Apfel, 216 F.3d 864, 869 (9th 9 10 III. 11 THE ALJ’S DECISION 12 13 The ALJ employed the five-step sequential evaluation process 14 in evaluating Plaintiff’s case. 15 Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since 16 August 8, 2012, the alleged onset date. 17 the ALJ found that Plaintiff’s status-post left partial nephrectomy 18 for grade 2 renal cell carcinoma without evidence of recurrence is 19 a severe impairment. 20 that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of 21 impairments that meet or medically equal the severity of any of 22 the listings enumerated in the regulations. (AR 30-32). (AR 28). At step one, the ALJ found that (AR 28). At step two, At step three, the ALJ determined 23 24 25 The ALJ then assessed Plaintiff’s RFC and concluded that she can perform light work,1 except: 26 27 28 1 “Light work involves lifting no more than 20 pounds at a time with frequent lifting or carrying of objects weighing up to 10 pounds. Even though the weight lifted may be very little, a job is in this category 4 1 [Plaintiff] is restricted to performing all postural 2 activities 3 understanding, 4 instructions, but would be able to make simplistic work- 5 related decisions without supervision; mild inability 6 interacting appropriately with supervisors, co-workers 7 and peers; and can manage funds on her own behalf. occasionally; would remembering and have mild carrying out inability detailed 8 9 (AR 32). At step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is capable of 10 performing past relevant work as a paralegal, administrative clerk, 11 and sales clerk. 12 Plaintiff was not under a disability as defined by the Social 13 Security Act from August 8, 2012, through the date of the decision. 14 (AR 35). (AR 34). Accordingly, the ALJ found that 15 16 IV. 17 STANDARD OF REVIEW 18 19 Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), a district court may review the 20 Commissioner’s decision to deny benefits. “[The] court may set 21 aside the Commissioner’s denial of benefits when the ALJ’s findings 22 are based on legal error or are not supported by substantial 23 24 25 26 27 28 when it requires a good deal of walking or standing, or when it involves sitting most of the time with some pushing and pulling of arm or leg controls. To be considered capable of performing a full or wide range of light work, you must have the ability to do substantially all of these activities. If someone can do light work, we determine that he or she can also do sedentary work, unless there are additional limiting factors such as loss of fine dexterity or inability to sit for long periods of time.” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b), 416.967(b). 5 1 evidence in the record as a whole.” Aukland v. Massanari, 257 F.3d 2 1033, 1035 (9th Cir. 2001) (citing Tackett, 180 F.3d at 1097); see 3 also Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1279 (9th Cir. 1996) (citing 4 Fair v. Bowen, 885 F.2d 597, 601 (9th Cir. 1989)). 5 6 “Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla, but less than 7 a preponderance.” Reddick, 157 F.3d at 720 (citing Jamerson v. 8 Chater, 112 F.3d 1064, 1066 (9th Cir. 1997)). 9 evidence which a reasonable person might accept as adequate to (Id.). It is “relevant 10 support a conclusion.” To determine whether substantial 11 evidence supports a finding, the court must “ ‘consider the record 12 as a whole, weighing both evidence that supports and evidence that 13 detracts from the [Commissioner’s] conclusion.’ ” 14 F.3d at 1035 (quoting Penny v. Sullivan, 2 F.3d 953, 956 (9th Cir. 15 1993)). 16 or reversing that conclusion, the court may not substitute its 17 judgment for that of the Commissioner. 18 21 (citing Flaten v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs., 44 F.3d 1453, 19 1457 (9th Cir. 1995)).e Aukland, 257 If the evidence can reasonably support either affirming Reddick, 157 F.3d at 720- 20 21 V. 22 DISCUSSION 23 24 A. The New Evidence Should Have Been Made Part Of The Record 25 26 Plaintiff submitted new and material evidence to the Appeals 27 Council that postdated the ALJ’s decision: (1) a November 24, 2015 28 Mental Medical Source Statement by Thomas Hoffman, M.D.; and (2) a 6 1 February 5, 2016 Operative Report for removal of Plaintiff’s left 2 kidney. 3 considered the evidence but nevertheless declined to review the 4 ALJ’s decision.2 5 the record and must be considered by this Court in reviewing the 6 ALJ’s decision. 7 1157, 1163 (9th Cir. 2012) (“[W]hen the Appeals Council considers 8 new evidence in deciding whether to review a decision of the ALJ, 9 that evidence becomes part of the administrative record, which the 10 district court must consider when reviewing the Commissioner’s 11 final decision for substantial evidence.”). 12 Court must “determine whether the ALJ’s finding of nondisability 13 was 14 record -- including any new evidence in the administrative record 15 that the Appeals Council considered -- not just the evidence before 16 the ALJ.” (Dkt. No. 25, Exs. 1-2; see AR 5). supported (AR 4-7). The Appeals Council Thus, the new evidence became part of Brewes v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 682 F.3d by substantial In other words, this evidence in the entire Gardner v. Berryhill, 856 F.3d 652, 656 (9th Cir. 2017). 17 18 Here, the Appeals Council should have required the ALJ to 19 consider the new evidence as part of the administrative record. 20 While the new evidence postdates the ALJ’s decision by a few months, 21 it 22 impairments during the relevant period. 23 Astrue, No. 10-CV-1515, 2012 WL 217751, at *7 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 24, 24 2012) (“Courts have found that circumstantial evidence can infer a 25 deficit in adaptive functioning.”); Christner v. Astrue, 498 F.3d 26 2 27 28 provides strong circumstantial evidence of Plaintiff’s See, e.g., Forsythe v. While it is not clear that the Appeals Council considered the February 2016 operative report (AR 5), the Commissioner does not contend otherwise (Dkt. No. 28 at 1-2). Nevertheless, in determining that remand is required, this Court does not rely on the February 2016 report. 7 1 790, 793 (8th Cir. 2007) (finding “circumstantial evidence to 2 support the fact that Christner's deficiency manifested before age 3 twenty-two”); Gomez v. Astrue, 695 F. Supp. 2d 1049, 1061 (C.D. 4 Cal. 2010) (“Evidence regarding [claimant’s] educational history 5 before age 22 permits the inference that his mental retardation 6 had an onset date during the developmental period.”). 7 Circuit has repeatedly recognized that retrospective diagnoses by 8 treating 9 determination of a disability. physicians and medical experts are The Ninth relevant to a See Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 10 831 n. 10 (9th Cir. 1995); Flaten v. Sec. of HHS, 44 F.3d 1453, 11 1465 n. 5 (9th Cir. 1995). 12 the medical evidence, including the November 2015 Mental Medical 13 Source Statement and the February 2016 Operative Report. On remand, the ALJ must evaluate all 14 15 16 B. The ALJ Failed To Properly Assess Plaintiff’s Depression As A Severe Impairment At Step Two Of The Evaluation 17 18 The ALJ found that Plaintiff’s only severe impairment was her 19 status-post left partial nephrectomy for grade 20 carcinoma. (AR 28). 21 depression “do[es] 22 impairments, and [is] for this reason non-severe.” 2 renal cell Further, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff’s not cause more than minimal work-related (AR 29). 23 24 By its own terms, the evaluation at step two is a de minimis 25 test intended to weed out the most minor of impairments. 26 v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 153–54 (1987) (O’Connor, J., concurring); 27 Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1158 (9th Cir. 2001) (“We have 28 defined the step-two inquiry as a de minimis screening device to 8 See Bowen 1 dispose of groundless claims.”). An impairment is not severe only 2 if the evidence establishes a slight abnormality that has only a 3 minimal effect on an individual’s ability to work. 4 at 1290 (internal citation omitted). Smolen, 80 F.3d 5 6 As a threshold matter, Plaintiff’s depression is well 7 established by the record. 8 physicians, including Plaintiff’s treating physician, the medical 9 expert (“ME”), the consultative examiner and the State Agency 10 physicians, found that Plaintiff suffers from major depression. 11 (AR 56, 80, 290, 387-88). 12 that 13 complications, including moderate restrictions in activities of 14 daily 15 concentration, persistence or pace. 16 discussion of Plaintiff’s condition does not fairly represent the 17 significance 18 complications arising from it, as reflected in the record. Plaintiff’s living Moreover, the medical record indicates depression and of As more fully discussed below, multiple has moderate her led to multiple difficulties depression in (AR 80). and the long-term maintaining Thus, the ALJ’s limitations and 19 20 Because a step-two evaluation is to dispose of “groundless 21 claims,” and the evidence here established that Plaintiff suffers 22 from depression, the ALJ erred by not addressing this ailment. 23 Webb v. Barnhart, 433 F.3d 683, 687 (9th Cir. 2005). 24 in 25 Plaintiff’s depression is a severe impairment at step two under 26 the de minimis test. the record was sufficient for 27 28 9 the ALJ to See The evidence conclude that 1 For the foregoing reasons, the matter is remanded for further 2 proceedings. On 3 depression 4 limitations imposed by Plaintiff’s depression in the ALJ’s overall 5 evaluation of Plaintiff. as a remand, severe the ALJ must impairment at evaluate step-two Plaintiff’s and include 6 7 C. The ALJ’s RFC Assessment Is Not Supported By Substantial 8 Evidence 9 10 “A claimant’s residual functional capacity is what he can 11 still do despite his physical, mental, nonexertional, and other 12 limitations.” 13 Cir. 1989) (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1545). 14 requires the ALJ to consider a claimant’s impairments and any 15 related symptoms that may “cause physical and mental limitations 16 that affect what [he] can do in a work setting.” 17 §§ 404.1545(a)(1), 416.945(a)(1). In determining a claimant’s RFC, 18 the 19 functional capacity assessments made by consultative examiners, 20 State 21 §§ 404.1545(a)(3), 22 416.913(c). ALJ Cooper v. Sullivan, 880 F.2d 1152, 1155 n.5 (9th considers Agency all physicians relevant and evidence, medical 416.945(a)(3); see An RFC assessment including experts. also 20 C.F.R. id. 20 residual C.F.R. §§ 404.1513(c), 23 24 In formulating Plaintiff’s nonexertional limitations, the ALJ 25 gave great weight to the consultative examiner’s opinion and little 26 weight to all other medical sources who evaluated Plaintiff’s 27 mental impairments. 28 supported by substantial evidence. (AR 32-34). 10 The ALJ’s assessment is not 1 First, the ALJ improperly rejected the State Agency 2 physician’s opinion. On March 17, 2014, Charles F. Bridges, Ph.D., 3 a State Agency physician, reviewed the medical record and opined 4 that Plaintiff has a severe affective disorder (depression) that 5 moderately restricts her activities of daily living and moderately 6 limits her ability to maintain concentration, persistence or pace. 7 (AR 80). 8 limited in her ability to understand, remember and carry out 9 detailed instructions; maintain attention and concentration for 10 extended periods; perform activities with a schedule, maintain 11 regular attendance and be punctual within customary tolerance; 12 complete a normal workday and workweek without interruptions from 13 psychologically based symptoms and to perform at a consistent pace 14 without an unreasonable number and length of rest periods; interact 15 appropriately with the general public; accept instructions and 16 respond appropriately to criticism from supervisors; get along with 17 coworkers 18 behavioral extremes; maintain socially appropriate behavior and 19 adhere to basic standards of neatness and cleanliness; and respond 20 appropriately to changes in the work setting. Dr. Bridges also opined that Plaintiff is moderately or peers without distracting them or exhibiting (AR 82-83). 21 22 The ALJ gave “little weight” to Dr. Bridges’s opinion, finding 23 it inconsistent with the consultative examiner’s opinion and not 24 having the benefit of the updated medical record. 25 However, that one medical opinion differs from another opinion does 26 not 27 choosing one over the other. 28 reviewed by the consultative examiner before giving her opinion provide sufficient reasoning or substantial (AR 31). evidence for Further, the only medical record 11 1 was related to Plaintiff’s cancer surgery. (AR 288). In contrast, 2 Dr. Bridges reviewed not only the consultative examiner’s opinion 3 but also other evidence submitted prior to March 2014, including 4 Plaintiff’s function report. (AR 76-77). 5 6 Second, the ALJ failed to give the proper weight 7 Plaintiff’s treating therapists. 8 the Airport Marina Counseling Service in September 2010. 9 30). to Plaintiff began treating with (AR 427- Plaintiff reported struggling with depression “for years,” 10 and which has recently worsened. (AR 427). She is a college 11 graduate, who worked for over thirty years until July 2010. 12 427-28). 13 years old. 14 diminished interest in activities, insomnia, feelings of guilt, 15 overeating,3 16 acknowledged smoking marijuana on occasion. 17 Mitchells, 18 disorder, recurrent, moderate, and cannabis dependence and assigned 19 a Global Assessment of Function (“GAF”) score of 50.4 (AR Plaintiff reported being raped when she was thirteen (AR 428). and prior Plaintiff’s Her depression symptoms included sadness, suicidal ideations. therapist, (AR 427). (AR 429). diagnosed major She Michelle depressive (AR 429). 20 21 3 22 4 23 24 25 26 27 28 The ALJ acknowledged that Plaintiff is morbidly obese. (AR 29). “A GAF score is a rough estimate of an individual’s psychological, social, and occupational functioning used to reflect the individual’s need for treatment.” Vargas v. Lambert, 159 F.3d 1161, 1164 n. 2 (9th Cir. 1998). The GAF includes a scale ranging from 0–100, and indicates a “clinician’s judgment of the individual’s overall level of functioning.” American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 32 (4th ed. text rev. 2000) (hereinafter DSM–IV). According to the DSM–IV, a GAF score between 41 and 50 describes “serious symptoms” or “any serious impairment in social, occupational, or school functioning.” Id. 34. “Although GAF scores, standing alone, do not control determinations of whether a person’s mental impairments rise to the level of a disability (or interact with physical impairments to create a disability), they may be a useful 12 1 In June 2012, after attending more than sixty therapy sessions, 2 Plaintiff continued to struggle with depression, weight gain, low 3 self-esteem, 4 relationships. 5 diagnosed 6 remission, and cannabis dependence, and assigned a GAF score of 7 59.5 8 dysfunctional relationships and low self-esteem. 9 therapist, lack of familial (AR 415). major (AR 416). Ron depressive support and dysfunctional Kevin Kunkel, Plaintiff’s therapist, disorder, recurrent, in partial In January 2013, Plaintiff reported continuing Goode, diagnosed major (AR 413). depressive Her disorder, 10 recurrent, in partial remission, and cannabis dependence, and 11 assigned a GAF score of 59. (AR 413-14). 12 13 The ALJ gave the treating therapists reports only “partial 14 weight.” (AR 34). 15 consistent with the consulting examiner’s assessment,6 the ALJ 16 concluded that “the record does not make clear whether these 17 therapists 18 However, it appears that the treating therapists were under the 19 supervision of treating psychiatrist Ronald Markham, M.D., who 20 noted depressive symptoms and diagnosed dysthymia vs. depressive 21 disorder NOS. qualify Even as though acceptable (AR 426). their medical GAF assessments sources.” (AR were 34). The ALJ failed to even discuss Dr. 22 23 24 measurement.” 2014). Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1003 n.4 (9th Cir. 5 26 A GAF score of 51–60 indicates moderate symptoms (e.g., flat affect and circumlocutory speech, occasional panic attacks) or moderate difficulty in social, occupational, or school functioning (e.g., few friends, conflicts with peers or co-workers). DSM–IV 34. 27 6 25 28 The consultative examiner assigned Plaintiff a GAF score of 60. 290). 13 (AR 1 Markham’s treating notes. 2 (9th Cir. 2007) (even if the treating physician’s opinion is 3 contradicted by another doctor, the ALJ may not reject this opinion 4 without 5 substantial evidence in the record.). providing See Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 632 specific, legitimate reasons, supported by 6 7 Further, the ALJ’s finding that the treating therapists are 8 not “acceptable medical sources” is not a legitimate reason, by 9 itself, for giving their opinions only partial weight. of a therapist “cannot 10 opinion 11 medically 12 “therapists . . . may provide insight into the severity of the 13 impairment(s) 14 function.” 15 further explains: determinable and how it establish impairment,” affects the the While the existence information individual’s Social Security Ruling (SSR) 06–3p, at *2.7 of a from ability to SSR 06–03 16 17 With the growth of managed health care in recent years 18 and the emphasis on containing medical costs, medical 19 sources who are not “acceptable medical sources,” such 20 as [therapists], have increasingly assumed a greater 21 percentage of the treatment and evaluation functions 22 previously 23 psychologists. Opinions from these medical sources, who handled primarily by physicians and 24 25 26 27 28 7 Social Security Rulings (SSRs) “do not carry the ‘force of law,’ but they are binding on ALJs nonetheless.” Bray v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 554 F.3d 1219, 1224 (9th Cir. 2009). They “reflect the official interpretation of the [Agency] and are entitled to some deference as long as they are consistent with the Social Security Act and regulations.” Id. (citation omitted). 14 1 are not technically deemed “acceptable medical sources” 2 under our rules, are important and should be evaluated 3 on key issues such as impairment severity and functional 4 effects, along with the other relevant evidence in the 5 file. 6 7 Id. at *3. Thus, while the treating therapists’ opinions cannot 8 be given controlling weight, they cannot be discounted merely 9 because they are not acceptable medical sources. Garrison v. 10 Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1013–14 (9th Cir. 2014) (other sources “can 11 provide evidence about the severity of a claimant’s impairment(s) 12 and how it affects the claimant’s ability to work.”) (citation and 13 alterations omitted). 14 15 Finally, the treating therapists’ evaluations were supported 16 by other medical evidence. 17 Plaintiff’s primary care doctor, noted Plaintiff’s “persistent 18 depressed mood and crying episodes,” “PTSD [from] sexual assault 19 as 20 following 21 overeating, trouble concentrating, and suicidal thoughts. (AR 387- 22 88, 391). 23 Source Statement. 24 findings 25 tearfulness, restricted range of affect, anhedonia, sadness, worry, 26 hyperarrousal, 27 flashbacks, 28 (Id.). a child” and “chronic, symptoms: In January 2015, Ingrid Liu, M.D., uncontrolled” depressed, hopeless, depression, with the anhedonia, insomnia, In November 2015, Dr. Hoffman completed a Mental Medical included (Dkt. No. 25, Ex. 1). chronic, irritability, fear, low persistent insomnia, motivation, Dr. Hoffman’s clinical depression, poor lethargy and anxiety, concentration, hopelessness. He diagnosed PTSD and recurrent major depression. 15 (Id.). 1 On remand, the ALJ shall properly assess the medical sources 2 who evaluated Plaintiff’s mental impairments and must provide 3 specific and legitimate reasons for rejecting any portions of their 4 opinions.8 5 6 VI. 7 CONCLUSION 8 9 Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that Judgment be entered REVERSING 10 the decision of the Commissioner and REMANDING this matter for 11 further proceedings consistent with this decision. 12 ORDERED that the Clerk of the Court serve copies of this Order and 13 the Judgment on counsel for both parties. IT IS FURTHER 14 15 DATED: January 9, 2018 16 /S/ __________ SUZANNE H. SEGAL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 17 18 19 20 21 THIS DECISION IS NOT INTENDED FOR PUBLICATION IN LEXIS/NEXIS, WESTLAW OR ANY OTHER LEGAL DATABASE. 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 8 Plaintiff also argues that the ALJ erred by (1) improperly rejecting David Lassus, M.D.’s opinion, (2) improperly rejecting her subjective symptoms, (3) failing to include all her limitations in the vocational expert’s hypothetical, (4) incorrectly finding her capable of past relevant work, and (5) giving minimal impact to her morbid obesity. (Dkt. No. 26 at 17, 19-35). However, it is unnecessary to reach Plaintiff's arguments on these grounds, as the matter is remanded for the alternative reasons discussed at length in this Order. 16

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