United States District Court, D. Nevada
LORI A. COLWELL, Plaintiffs,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Defendants.
before the court is Magistrate Judge Foley's report and
recommendation (“R&R”). (ECF No. 23).
Defendant Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
filed an objection (ECF No. 24), to which plaintiff Lori
Colwell responded (ECF No. 25).
before the court is plaintiff's motion for judgment on
the pleadings. (ECF No. 20). Defendant filed a response (ECF
No. 22). Plaintiff did not file a reply, and the time for
doing so has since passed.
before the court is defendant's cross-motion to affirm.
(ECF No. 21). Plaintiff has not filed a response, and the
time for doing so has since passed.
parties do not object to the extensive factual presentation
in the R&R. Therefore, the court adopts the factual
representation in the R&R and will detail factual and
procedural background in the discussion section of this order
as necessary to explain the court's holding.
may file specific written objections to the findings and
recommendations of a United States magistrate judge made
pursuant to Local Rule IB 1-4. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B);
LR IB 3-2. Where a party timely objects to a magistrate
judge's report and recommendation, the court is required
to “make a de novo determination of those portions of
the [report and recommendation] to which objection is
made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). The court “may
accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings
or recommendations made by the magistrate.”
to Local Rule IB 3-2(a), a party may object to the report and
recommendation of a magistrate judge within fourteen (14)
days from the date of service of the findings and
recommendations. Similarly, Local Rule 7-2 provides that a
party must file an opposition to a motion within fourteen
(14) days after service of the motion.
Judge Foley's R&R holds that the administrative law
judge (“ALJ”) erred when evaluating and weighing
the medical opinions of numerous treating and non-treating
physicians in this case. (ECF No. 23). The R&R also holds
that the ALJ erred in discrediting plaintiff's testimony
regarding her limitations. Id. The R&R
recommends that the court remand this case with instructions
to award benefits. Id.
does not specifically object to Magistrate Judge Foley's
holding that the ALJ erred when evaluating the opinions of
the doctors and discrediting plaintiff's testimony. (ECF
No. 24). Instead, defendant objects to Magistrate Judge
Foley's prescribed remedy of a remand solely for
benefits. Id. Defendant argues that
“conflicts, ambiguities, and serious doubt remain as to
whether plaintiff is in fact disabled, ” which makes a
remand for further proceedings the appropriate remedy.
Id. at 10.
responds that Magistrate Judge Foley's recommended remedy
is appropriate in this case. (ECF No. 25). Plaintiff asserts
that the record does not contain sufficient conflicts or
ambiguities so as to render further proceedings useful.
Id. Plaintiff further argues that if plaintiff's
improperly discredited testimony were credited as true, the
ALJ would be required to award benefits. Id.
Plaintiff therefore contends that a remand solely for
benefits is the appropriate remedy. Id.
parties do not contest Magistrate Judge Foley's holding
that the ALJ failed to provide legally sufficient reasons for
rejecting evidence. After reviewing the record and underlying
briefs, the court agrees that the ALJ failed to provide
legally sufficient reasons for rejecting the medical opinion
of Dr. Barone and for rejecting plaintiff's testimony.
The court will therefore consider the appropriate remedy.
Social Security cases, the “ordinary ‘remand'
rule” applies when a reviewing court holds that an
administrative law judge erred in denying benefits and the
error was not harmless. See, e.g., Molina v. Astrue,
674 F.3d 1104, 1115 (9th Cir. 2012) (recognizing that
harmless error principles apply in Social Security Act
cases); Hoa Hong Van v. Barnhart, 483 F.3d 600, 605
(9th Cir. 2007) (noting that an erroneous decision to deny
benefits can require reversal); Lingenfelter v.
Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1044 (9th Cir. 2007) (discussing
the ordinary remand rule). Under the ordinary remand rule,
“the proper course, ...