United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER REVERSING THE DECISION OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY
ADMINISTRATION COMMISSIONER AND REMANDING THE CASE FOR
case involves the appeal of the Social Security
Administration Commissioner's denial of Disability
Insurance Benefits to Plaintiff Young Cha Oshiro.
August 9, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for Disability
Insurance Benefits pursuant to Title II of the Social
Security Act. Plaintiff claims she has been disabled since
April 29, 2012, due to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
Social Security Administration denied her initial
application. Following an administrative hearing, the
Administrative Law Judge held that Plaintiff is not disabled
and found that Plaintiff is able to perform work in the
appeal, Plaintiff argues that the Administrative Law Judge
erred and requests a remand to the agency for further
proceedings. Plaintiff asserts that the Administrative Law
Judge erred for three reasons. First, Plaintiff argues the
Administrative Law Judge erred by rejecting the opinions of
her treating physicians. Second, Plaintiff argues that the
Administrative Law Judge improperly declined to credit the
Plaintiff's testimony concerning the severity of her
medical condition. Third, Plaintiff asserts that the
Administrative Law Judge erred by relying on the testimony of
the vocational expert to find that Plaintiff could perform
work as a Toll Collector.
Court REVERSES the decision of the Social Security
Administration Commissioner and REMANDS the case for further
August 9, 2012, Plaintiff Young Cha Oshiro filed an
application for Disability Insurance Benefits with the Social
Security Administration. (Administrative Record
(“AR”) at 149-52, 162, ECF No. 17).
January 23, 2013, the Social Security Administration denied
Plaintiff's initial application. (AR at pp. 88-91).
August 21, 2013, the Administration denied her request for
reconsideration. (AR at pp. 95-99).
the denial of Plaintiff's request for reconsideration,
she sought a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). (AR at pp. 101-07).
14, 2014, an ALJ conducted a hearing on Plaintiff's
application. (AR at pp. 26-66).
September 17, 2014, the ALJ issued a written decision denying
Plaintiff's application. (AR at pp. 12-21).
sought review by the Appeals Council for the Social Security
Administration. The Appeals Council denied further review of
Plaintiff's application on February 12, 2016, rendering
the ALJ's decision as the final administrative decision
by the Commissioner of Social Security. (AR at pp. 1-3).
April 4, 2016, Plaintiff sought judicial review of the
Commissioner of Social Security's final decision to deny
her application for Disability Benefits in this Court
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Complaint for Review of
Social Security Disability Benefits Determinations, ECF No.
August 4, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued a briefing
schedule. (ECF No. 20).
September 30, 2016, Plaintiff filed PLAINTIFF'S OPENING
BRIEF. (ECF No. 22).
November 9, 2016, Defendant filed DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR
A FIRST EXTENSION OF 30 DAYS TO FILE THE ANSWERING BRIEF.
(ECF No. 23).
November 10, 2016, the Court issued a Minute Order granting
the Defendant's Motion for an Extension. (ECF No. 24).
December 14, 2016, the Defendant filed DEFENDANT'S
ANSWERING BRIEF. (ECF No. 25).
December 27, 2016, Plaintiff filed PLAINTIFF'S REPLY
BRIEF. (ECF No. 26).
January 17, 2017, the Court held a hearing on Plaintiff's
appeal of the decision of the Social Security Administration
is a 56 year-old female. (Administrative Record
(“AR”) at p. 162, ECF No. 17). Plaintiff worked
as a sewer at CC Fashion Hawaii from 1999 to 2011.
(Id. at p. 204). Plaintiff also worked for a year as
a janitor in 1998. (Id.) Plaintiff explained that as
of 2011, she could no longer work the four to six hours a day
that was necessary for her employment at CC Fashion Hawaii.
(Id. at pp. 34-35). Plaintiff testified that she
required extensive breaks that did not allow her to work
testified that after 2011 she worked exclusively as a
contract seamstress. (Id. at pp. 35-36). Plaintiff
had been self-employed as a contract seamstress since July
1987 and she stopped working in April 2012. (Id. at
pp. 31, 164). Plaintiff testified that she performed sewing
work that she received from a factory. (Id. at pp.
35-36). Plaintiff stated that she performed the work in her
home and returned it to the factory when completed.
testified that she only worked three to four hours a day as a
seamstress. (Id.) Plaintiff explained that she took
frequent breaks throughout the day due to fatigue and pain
caused by Lupus. (Id. at p. 36). Plaintiff explained
that she took breaks for 30 minutes to an hour and that her
condition varied from day to day. (Id. at p. 35).
Plaintiff testified that there were some days when she could
not work at all due to her condition. (Id.)
stated that she stopped working in April 2012 because she
could no longer perform the work within the deadlines she was
given by the factory. (Id. at pp. 32-36). Plaintiff
explained that on a few occasions she had to return the
sewing work to the factory in an unfinished state because she
was unable to meet the deadlines due to her condition.
(Id. at pp. 35-36).
record reflects that Plaintiff has been suffering from
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (“Lupus”) for a
number of years. Plaintiff has been treated by two
physicians, Dr. Paul Kim, her primary physician, and Dr.
Scott Kawamoto, her rheumatologist.
provided records from her eight visits with Dr. Kim between
September 2011 and January 2014. (AR at pp. 245-47, 290-91,
300-01, ECF No. 17). The treating records from Dr. Kim are
difficult to read but he provided a summary of
Plaintiff's condition in June 2014. Dr. Kim stated that
Plaintiff suffers from Lupus and that it causes her to have
pain in her extremities and joints. (Id. at pp.
400-03). Dr. Kim indicated that Plaintiff suffers from
fatigue and requires many breaks throughout the workday.
(Id. at p. 401). Dr. Kim stated that Plaintiff would
be absent from work more than three days a month due to
Lupus. (Id. at p. 402).
also provided records from her rheumatologist, Dr. Scott
Kawamoto. There are numerous reports of the visits she made
to Dr. Kawamoto for treatment of her Lupus condition.
June 2011 and December 2011, Plaintiff was treated by Dr.
Kawamoto, on three occasions for left ankle pain, swelling,
and fatigue caused by Lupus. (Id. at pp. 217, 220,
223). Plaintiff was prescribed Hydroxychloroquine Sulfate and
Celebrex to treat her inflammation and joint pain symptoms.
April 2012 and January 2013, Plaintiff was treated by Dr.
Kawamoto three times for bilateral knee pain, pain in her
back, neck, wrists, right shoulder, and left ankle, mouth
sores, and fatigue due to non-restorative sleep.
(Id. at pp. 226, 230, 275).
Social Security Administration's Review of
Plaintiff's August 2012 Application For Disability
August 9, 2012 application for Disability Insurance Benefits
was denied on January 23, 2013. (AR at pp. 88-91, ECF No.
17). Following the initial denial, Plaintiff moved for
her Motion to Reconsider was pending, on March 3, 2013,
Plaintiff went to the emergency room because she was
experiencing abdominal pain. (Id. at pp. 319-327).
She was provided with medication to treat her pain and
discharged the same day. (Id.)
pursued follow-up treatment with her primary care physician,
Dr. Kim. Her symptoms returned three days later on March 6,
2013. Plaintiff went to the emergency room with stomach pain
and dizziness. (Id. at pp. 328-350). She was
admitted to the hospital and a scan revealed that Plaintiff
had a benign tumor that caused her vertigo, dizziness, and
nausea. (Id. at p. 329). Plaintiff was prescribed
medicine to treat her nausea and dizziness and referred to
her treating physicians for follow-up treatment.
(Id. at pp. 328-29).
continued to make frequent visits to her treating physicians
following her March 2013 hospitalization. (Id. at
pp. 290-91, 300-01). Plaintiff's medical records reflect
six examinations by Dr. Kawamoto from April to October 2013.
(Id. at pp. 277, 361, 365, 368). The records
indicate that Plaintiff continued to experience pain, aching,
and fatigue. (Id.)
August 21, 2013, the Social Security Administration denied
Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration. (Id. at
pp. 95-99). Plaintiff requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (Id.
at pp. 101-07).
2014, both Plaintiff's treating physicians Dr. Kawamoto
and Dr. Kim provided Medical Source Statements to the Social
Security Administration. (Id. at pp. 395-403). The
Medical Source Statements provide information to the agency
about the Plaintiff's medical condition, physical
limitations, and her ability to work. (Id.)
Plaintiff's treating physicians agree that Plaintiff
suffers from Lupus. Plaintiff's treating physicians share
the opinion that Plaintiff cannot walk or stand for more than
two hours in an eight-hour work day. (Id. at pp.
395, 400). Plaintiff's physicians state she cannot walk
or stand for more than 30 minutes at a time and cannot sit
for more than 30 minutes at a time. (Id.)
Dr. Kawamoto and Dr. Kim agree that Plaintiff's medical
condition prevents her from working full-time. Both
physicians stated that Plaintiff requires more than regular
breaks during an 8-hour workday. (Id. at pp. 396,
401). Both of Plaintiff's treating physicians agree that
Plaintiff would miss more than three days of work per month
because of joint pain, swelling, and severe fatigue caused by
Lupus. (Id. at pp. 397, 402).
14, 2014, a hearing on Plaintiff's application for
Disability Benefits was held before an ALJ. (Id. at
denied Plaintiff's application for Disability Insurance
Benefits, finding that Plaintiff had not met the requirements
set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 423. (AR at pp. 12-21, ECF No.
U.S.C. § 423 establishes the statutory eligibility
requirements which an individual must satisfy to receive a
disability insurance benefit pursuant to the Social Security
Act. 42 U.S.C. § 423(a)(1). An individual is eligible to
receive disability insurance benefits if the individual:
(A) is insured for disability insurance benefits as
determined by 42 U.S.C. § 423(c)(1);
(B) has not attained retirement age;
(C) has filed an application for disability insurance
(D) is under a disability as defined in 42 U.S.C. §
42 U.S.C. § 423(a)(1)(A)-(D).
evaluated the four requirements of 42 U.S.C. §
the ALJ found Plaintiff was insured for disability insurance
benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423(c)(1). The ALJ
determined that Plaintiff's earnings record showed that
she had made disability insurance coverage payments. Based on
Plaintiff's work history, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
had acquired quarters of coverage that will last until
December 31, 2016. (AR at p. 14, ECF No. 17).
the ALJ found that Plaintiff fulfilled sections (B) and (C)
of Section 423 because she had not reached retirement age at
the time of her application and had properly filed an
application for disability insurance benefits.
the ALJ sought to determine if Plaintiff suffered from a
disability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423(d).
U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A) provides, as follows:
The term “disability” means- inability to engage
in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any
medically determinable physical or mental impairment which
can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can
be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
claimed that she was disabled for a continuous period
following April 29, 2012, due to Lupus. (AR at p. 187, ECF
Administrative Law Judge found that Plaintiff failed to
establish that she had a disability that lasted or was
expected to last at least twelve months following her alleged