Butler v. Commissioner of Social Security

Filing 24

Final Judgment and ORDER Regarding Plaintiff's Social Security Complaint, signed by Magistrate Judge Erica P. Grosjean on 3/28/17. CASE CLOSED. (Marrujo, C)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 SCOTT BUTLER, Plaintiff, 12 13 14 v. Case No. 1:15-cv-00133-EPG FINAL JUDGMENT AND ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF’S SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, 15 Defendant. 16 17 This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s complaint for judicial review of an 18 unfavorable decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration regarding his 19 application for disability insurance benefits. The parties have consented to entry of final judgment 20 by the United States Magistrate Judge under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) with any appeal 21 to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. (ECF Nos. 6, 11.) 22 At the hearing on March 28, 2017, the Court heard from the parties. Having reviewed the 23 cord, administrative transcript, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, the Court finds as 24 follows: 25 For the reasons announced by the Court on the record at the conclusion of the parties’ oral 26 argument on March 28, 2017, the Court finds that the decision of the Commissioner of Social 27 Security should be reversed and the case should be remanded for further proceedings. 28 1 1 In reaching Plaintiff’s residual functional capacity finding, the Administrative Law Judge 2 (“ALJ”) gave great weight to the medical opinions of examining psychologists Dr. Cushman and 3 Dr. Spivey. The ALJ indicated that, by including a single limitation for “work involving no 4 production rate or pace work” in Plaintiff’s residual functional capacity finding, he had “fully 5 credited the claimant with his complaint of problems with concentration and focus, and Dr. 6 Cushman and Dr. Spivey finding that the claimant may have problems dealing with stress and 7 emotional capacity.” However, the ALJ did not fully discuss the reason(s) for not accepting 8 several limitations suggested by Dr. Cushman, who determined that Plaintiff had limitations 9 including: 1) difficulty maintaining regular attendance, 2) difficulty working a normal workday or 10 workweek, 3) difficulty getting along with supervisors, coworkers and the public, and 4) 11 difficulty dealing with the usual stressors encountered in a competitive work environment. (AR 12 325.) The ALJ also did not fully discuss the reason(s) for not accepting the limitations suggested 13 by Dr. Spivey, who determined that Plaintiff had limitations including: 1) moderate limitation in 14 ability to withstand the stress of a routine workday, and 2) marked limitation in ability to 15 withstand emotional stability/predictability. (AR 437.) The ALJ’s failure to fully consider the 16 limitations found Dr. Cushman and Dr. Spivey constitutes legal error. On remand, the Administrative Law Judge shall examine the record with respect to the 17 18 above medical sources and determine whether they should be incorporated in the residual 19 functional capacity finding. If they should not be incorporated, the Administrative Law Judge 20 should explain why. Alternatively, the Administrative Law Judge may incorporate their findings 21 and continue the analysis using the five step process. The Court finds for the Commissioner regarding other of Plaintiff’s arguments, as 22 23 discussed on the record. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s appeal from the administrative decision of 24 25 the Commissioner of Social Security and the case is remanded to the Social Security 26 Administration. 27 \\\ 28 \\\ 2 1 2 The Clerk of the Court is DIRECTED to enter judgment in favor of Plaintiff Scott Butler and against Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security. 3 IT IS SO ORDERED. 4 5 Dated: March 28, 2017 /s/ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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