Inconsistencies Between Vocational Expert Testimony, Dictionary of Occupational Titles and Characteristics of Claimant’s Mental Impairments Require Remand of Denial of Disability Benefits

Rounds v. Commissioner, SSA, No 13-35505, 2015 DJDAR 8892 (9th Cir. August, 4, 2015).

In this Supplemental Security Income disability case, the court concludes that a potential inconsistency between (1) the ALJ’s findings as to the claimant’s cognitive impairments, and (2) the cognitive requirements of certain jobs listed in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, which a vocational expert testified the claimant could perform, required a remand for a new hearing to explore that issue. In less favorable rulings, the court upheld the ALJ’s rejection of some of the claimant’s treating doctors’ findings, and most troubling, upheld the ALJ’s rejection of both the claimant’s and two lay witnesses’ testimony concerning the claimant’s disabling pain, in part by accepting the ALJ’s finding that the claimant had a “secondary motive”–i.e., her interest in receiving disability benefits–to exaggerate her symptoms. (The ALJ’s credibility findings, upheld by this panel, seem patently inadequate compared to the standard articulated by another panel, in a different case published on the same day: Brown-Hunter v. Colvin.