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Taylor v. Colvin

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 3, 2013

LEE D. TAYLOR, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

STEPHEN J. HILLMAN, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court for review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security denying plaintiff's applications for Disability Insurance Benefits and for Supplemental Security Income. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties have consented that the case may be handled by the undersigned. The action arises under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), which authorizes the Court to enter judgment upon the pleadings and transcript of the record before the Commissioner. The plaintiff and the defendant have filed their pleadings (Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Complaint; Defendant's Brief in Opposition to Relief Sought in Complaint), and the defendant has filed the certified transcript of record. After reviewing the matter, the Court concludes that the decision of the Commissioner should be reversed and remanded.

On July 13, 2010, plaintiff Lee Taylor filed applications for a period of disability or Disability Insurance Benefits and for Supplemental Security Income, alleging an inability to work since August 1, 2005, due to non-Hodgkin's lymphona and chronic Epstein Barr virus. (See Administrative Record ["AR"] 167-77, 199). On January 20, 2012 (following a hearing on January 12, 2012), an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") determined that plaintiff had the following severe impairments - hypertension, obesity and a history of alcohol use - but found that plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (See AR 18-25).

Following the Appeals Council's denial of plaintiff's request for a review of the hearing decision (see AR 1-3), plaintiff filed the present action in this Court

Plaintiff makes one challenge to the ALJ's Decision. Plaintiff solely alleges the ALJ erred in failing to provide clear and convincing reasons for rejecting plaintiff's testimony.

DISCUSSION

ISSUE NO. 1:

Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ failed to provide clear and convincing reasons for finding plaintiff not credible in the assessment of plaintiff's Residual Functioning Capacity ("RFC").[1] Defendant argues that the ALJ provided valid reasons for finding plaintiff not credible.

In her initial Disability Report, plaintiff complained of non-Hodgkins lymphoma and Chronic Epstein Barr virus. (See AR 198-205).

In an Exertion Questionnaire dated August 18, 2010, plaintiff stated that she suffered constant pain in her head, legs, stomach, spleen, gallbladder, pancreas and liver, and that she experienced migraine headaches (2 to 3 times a week), constipation and diarrhea. Plaintiff further stated she had pain despite taking medication. Plaintiff further stated her pain and stiffness prevented her from walking or standing more than five minutes, stooping, or carrying groceries far or often. Plaintiff further stated she had to use the handrails to pull herself up 4 porch steps to her apartment. Plaintiff further stated she swept or vacuumed once a week, dusted, cooked, watered (yard work) and sometimes washed dishes. (See AR 206-08).

In a later Disability Report, plaintiff complained of worsening constant pain, stiffer legs, headaches (every day), migraine headaches (3 times a week, with 1 to 2 days of recovery time), low back pain, night sweats, sleeplessness, connective tissue disease, and hair loss. Plaintiff stated that she needed somebody to shop, make calls, wash clothes, write and drive, and that she had more difficulty walking, riding a bike, washing her clothes, and taking care of her hair. (See AR 238-42).

At the administrative hearing, plaintiff testified that she had not worked since 2005 because of her headaches, migraine headaches and leg pains. She attempted to return to work as a bookkeeper but was unable to concentrate. It takes her two days to recuperate from her migraine headaches (3 times a week). She recently loss strength in her hands, and suffers weakness in her right arm and left leg. She has difficulty walking, bending down or squatting. She is depressed, is unable to concentrate, has problems with her memory, is unable to sleep because of leg cramps and migraine headaches, and (when she is able to sleep) sleeps for long periods (but still does not feel rested). (See AR 42-43, 50-52, 54-57).

Plaintiff testified she used to frequently go the emergency room for her migraine headaches, but stopped going because the medicines stopped working. She goes to a clinic to numb the pain (the pain does not go away). She also used to go the emergency room for chest pains and leg pains. She went to the emergency room more than twelve times. (See AR 47-48).

Plaintiff testified she needs help grocery shopping, cleaning, and driving. She is able to cook, mostly quick items, and to lift about eight pounds. She uses a cane in her house, and goes around outside by bus by holding onto her bike (using it like a crutch). She socializes with others ...


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