Ormsby v. Colvin(CONSENT)
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Honorable Judge Wallace Capel, Jr on 12/17/14. (scn, )
IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,
Acting Commissioner of Social Security,
CIVIL ACTION NO. 1:14-cv-46-WC
Dennis Ormsby (“Plaintiff”) filed an application for disability insurance benefits
and supplemental security income benefits. His application was denied at the initial
Plaintiff then requested and received a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). Following the hearing, the ALJ issued a decision in
which the ALJ found Plaintiff not disabled from the alleged onset date of December 24,
2008, through the date of the decision. Plaintiff appealed to the Appeals Council, which
rejected his request for review of the ALJ’s decision. The ALJ’s decision consequently
became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”).1
See Chester v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986). The case is now before the
Pursuant to the Social Security Independence and Program Improvements Act of 1994, Pub. L.
No. 103-296, 108 Stat. 1464, the functions of the Secretary of Health and Human Services with
respect to Social Security matters were transferred to the Commissioner of Social Security.
court for review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), both parties
have consented to the conduct of all proceedings and entry of a final judgment by the
undersigned United States Magistrate Judge. Pl.’s Consent to Jurisdiction (Doc. 7);
Def.’s Consent to Jurisdiction (Doc. 6). Based on the court’s review of the record and the
briefs of the parties, the court AFFIRMS the decision of the Commissioner.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Under 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A), a person is entitled to benefits when the person is
unable 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 12
months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).2
To make this determination, the Commissioner employs a five-step, sequential
evaluation process. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920 (2011).
(1) Is the person presently unemployed?
(2) Is the person’s impairment severe?
(3) Does the person’s impairment meet or equal one of the specific
impairments set forth in 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1 [the Listing of
(4) Is the person unable to perform his or her former occupation?
(5) Is the person unable to perform any other work within the economy?
An affirmative answer to any of the above questions leads either to the next
question, or, on steps three and five, to a finding of disability. A negative
answer to any question, other than step three, leads to a determination of
A “physical or mental impairment” is one resulting from anatomical, physiological, or
psychological abnormalities that are demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques.
McDaniel v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1030 (11th Cir. 1986).3
The burden of proof rests on a claimant through Step 4. See Phillips v. Barnhart,
357 F.3d 1232, 1237-39 (11th Cir. 2004). A claimant establishes a prima facie case of
qualifying disability once they have carried the burden of proof from Step 1 through Step
4. At Step 5, the burden shifts to the Commissioner, who must then show there are a
significant number of jobs in the national economy the claimant can perform. Id.
To perform the fourth and fifth steps, the ALJ must determine the claimant’s
Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”). Id. at 1238-39. The RFC is what the claimant is
still able to do despite the claimant’s impairments and is based on all relevant medical
and other evidence. Id. It may contain both exertional and nonexertional limitations. Id.
at 1242-43. At the fifth step, the ALJ considers the claimant’s RFC, age, education, and
work experience to determine if there are jobs available in the national economy the
claimant can perform. Id. at 1239. To do this, the ALJ can either use the Medical
Vocational Guidelines4 (“grids”) or call a vocational expert (“VE”). Id. at 1239-40.
The grids allow the ALJ to consider factors such as age, confinement to sedentary
or light work, inability to speak English, educational deficiencies, and lack of job
experience. Each factor can independently limit the number of jobs realistically available
McDaniel v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026 (11th Cir. 1986), is a supplemental security income case
(SSI). The same sequence applies to disability insurance benefits. Cases arising under Title II are
appropriately cited as authority in Title XVI cases. See, e.g., Ware v. Schweiker, 651 F.2d 408
(5th Cir. 1981).
See 20 C.F.R. pt. 404 subpt. P, app. 2.
to an individual. Phillips, 357 F.3d at 1240. Combinations of these factors yield a
statutorily-required finding of “Disabled” or “Not Disabled.” Id.
The court’s review of the Commissioner’s decision is a limited one. This court
must find the Commissioner’s decision conclusive if it is supported by substantial
evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Graham v. Apfel, 129 F.3d 1420, 1422 (11th Cir. 1997).
Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance. It is “such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (quotation marks and
citation omitted); see also Crawford v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158-59
(11th Cir. 2004) (“‘Even if the evidence preponderates against the Commissioner’s
findings, [a reviewing court] must affirm if the decision reached is supported by
substantial evidence.’”) (alteration added). A reviewing court may not look only to those
parts of the record which support the decision of the ALJ, but instead must view the
record in its entirety and take account of evidence which detracts from the evidence relied
on by the ALJ. Hillsman v. Bowen, 804 F.2d 1179, 1180 (11th Cir. 1986) (per curiam).
The court must “scrutinize the record in its entirety to determine the reasonableness of the
[Commissioner’s] . . . factual findings. . . . No similar presumption of validity attaches to
the [Commissioner’s] . . . legal conclusions, including determination of the proper
standards to be applied in evaluating claims.” Walker v. Bowen, 826 F.2d 996, 999 (11th
Cir. 1987) (per curiam).
Plaintiff was thirty-six years old at the time of the hearing before the ALJ and his
attorney represented at the hearing that Plaintiff had at least a high school education. Tr.
25. Following the administrative hearing and employing the five-step process, the ALJ
found at Step 1 that Plaintiff “has not engaged in [substantial gainful activity] since
December 24, 2008, the alleged onset date.” Tr. 18. At Step 2, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff suffers from severe impairments of “degenerative disc disease (DDD) of the
lumbar spine; history of deep venous thrombosis (DVT); bipolar disorder; depression;
alcohol dependence, in remission; and history of cocaine abuse.” Id. The ALJ then
found at Step 3 that Plaintiff “does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments.”
Tr. 19. Next, the ALJ found that Plaintiff has the RFC to perform light work with
additional limitations. Tr. 21.
Following the RFC determination, the ALJ found at Step 4 that Plaintiff could not
perform his past relevant work. Tr. 25. At Step 5, the ALJ found that, “[c]onsidering the
claimant’s age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity,” and after
consulting with the VE, “there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy that the claimant can perform.”
The ALJ identified the following
occupations as examples: “bench assembler,” “garment sorter,” and “surveillance system
monitor.” Tr. 26. Accordingly, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff “has not been under a
disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from December 24, 2008, through the
date of th[e] decision.” Id.
Plaintiff presents two issues for this court’s consideration in review of the ALJ’s
decision: (1) whether “[t]he Commissioner’s decision should be reversed because the
ALJ erred in not giving adequate weight to the opinion of [Plaintiff]’s treating physician,
Dr. Fernando Lopez”; and (2) whether “[t]he Commissioner’s decision should be
reversed because the ALJ failed to properly apply the three-part pain standard established
by the Eleventh Circuit for adjudicating claimants based upon complaints of pain.” Pl.’s
Br. (Doc. 12) at 3. The court will address each argument below.
Whether the ALJ gave adequate weight to the opinion of Plaintiff’s
Plaintiff argues the ALJ erred by giving little weight to the opinion of Plaintiff’s
treating physician, Dr. Fernando Lopez, M.D, who is a psychiatrist at SpectraCare. Dr.
Lopez provided a mental RFC of Plaintiff’s limitations in which he opined that Plaintiff
suffered from either a moderate or marked degree of impairment in every category:
1. Estimated degree of impairment of [Plaintiff]’s ability to interact appropriately
with the general public – Marked
2. Estimated degree of impairment of [Plaintiff]’s ability to ask simple questions
or request assistance – Marked
3. Estimated degree of impairment of [Plaintiff]’s ability to get along with coworkers or peers – Marked
4. Estimated degree of constriction of interests of [Plaintiff] – Marked
5. Estimated degree of deterioration in personal habits of [Plaintiff] – Moderate
6. Estimated degree of restriction of [Plaintiff]’s daily activities, e.g., ability to
attend meetings (church, school, lodge, etc.), work around the house, socialize
with friends and neighbors, etc. – Moderate
7. Estimated degree of impairment of [Plaintiff]’s ability to understand,
remember and carry out simple instructions – Moderate
8. Estimated degree of impairment of [Plaintiff]’s ability to understand,
remember and carry out complex instructions – Marked
9. Estimated degree of impairment of [Plaintiff]’s ability to understand,
remember and carry out repetitive tasks – Moderate
10. Estimated degree of impairment of [Plaintiff]’s ability to maintain attention
and concentration for extended periods – Marked
11. Estimated degree of impairment of [Plaintiff]’s ability to perform activities
within a schedule, maintain regular attendance and be punctual within
customary tolerances – Moderate
12. Estimated degree of impairment of [Plaintiff]’s ability to sustain a routine
without special supervision – Moderate
13. Estimated degree of impairment of [Plaintiff]’s ability to complete a normal
workday and workweek without interruptions from psychologically based
symptoms and to perform at a consistent pace without an unreasonable number
and length or rest periods – Moderate
14. Estimated degree of impairment of [Plaintiff]’s ability to make simple workrelated decisions – Moderate
15. Estimated degree of impairment of [Plaintiff]’s ability to respond appropriately
to supervision – Moderate
16. Estimated degree of impairment of [Plaintiff]’s ability to respond appropriately
to changes in the work setting – Marked
17. Estimated degree of impairment of [Plaintiff]’s ability to respond to customary
work pressures – Moderate
18. Estimated degree of impairment of [Plaintiff]’s ability to be aware of normal
hazards and take appropriate precautions – Moderate
Plaintiff takes issue with the ALJ’s decision to accord little weight to the above
opinion by Dr. Lopez. The ALJ stated, “I give little weight to Dr. Lopez’s overly
restrictive medical source statements. Although Dr. Lopez is a treating medical source,
his statements are apparently based on only three months of treatment and the assumption
that [Plaintiff] was actively abusing alcohol and cocaine.” Tr. 25 (citations omitted).
Plaintiff asserts that “[t]he ALJ’s findings regarding the amount of weight to give to [the
opinion of] Dr. Lopez are in error” (1) because “Dr. Lopez treated [Plaintiff] during a
period of sobriety and not during a period of substance abuse” and (2) because “the
treatment lasted from December 2, 2010, through June 6, 2011, which indicates a
treatment period of over six months, and not a three month period of treatment which was
found by the ALJ.” Pl.’s Br. (Doc. 12) at 4 (citations omitted).
In general, “[a]bsent ‘good cause,’ an ALJ is to give the medical opinions of
treating physicians ‘substantial or considerable weight.’” Winschel v. Comm’r, Soc. Sec.
Admin., 631 F.3d 1176, 1179 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d
1436, 1440 (11th Cir. 1997)). “Good cause exists ‘when the (1) treating physician
opinion was not bolstered by the evidence; (2) evidence supported a contrary finding; or
(3) treating physician’s opinion was conclusory or inconsistent with the doctor’s own
medical records.” Id. (quoting Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1241 (11th Cir.
2004)). If the ALJ disregards a treating physician’s opinion, or affords it less than
“substantial or considerable weight,” the ALJ must “‘clearly articulate [the] reasons’ for
doing so.” Id. (quoting Phillips, 357 F.3d at 1240-41).
Plaintiff contends that “Dr. Lopez’s treatment records support his opinion, and this
opinion is consistent with the additional medical evidence in the file,” and thus was
entitled to substantial weight. Pl.’s Br. (Doc. 12) at 4. However, a review of the decision
as a whole reflects many inconsistencies, noted by the ALJ, between Dr. Lopez’s
opinions and other evidence of record:
Dr. Lopez has completed a form indicating that [Plaintiff] has moderate
deterioration in personal habits, moderate restriction of daily activities, and
marked constriction of interests. . . .
On the other hand, [Plaintiff] has reported that he takes care of his personal
needs and grooming, has no problem with personal care, prepares his own
meals, watches television, uses a computer, “piddles” around, drives a car,
can go out alone, and shops in stores and by computer. He testified that he
feeds his dog, is taking two college courses, drives his roommate’s car to
school two days a week, attends Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meetings, and
drove himself to the hearing. Dr. Jordan noted that [Plaintiff] drove to his
consultative psychological evaluation. He also noted [Plaintiff]’s neat
grooming and good hygiene. He stated that [Plaintiff] can function
independently, activities of daily living such as bathing and grooming are
not limited, and daily living skills such as general cleaning and fixing light
meals are not compromised by intellectual function or psychiatric function.
[Plaintiff]’s appropriate dress, grooming, and hygiene have been noted
during visits to SpectraCare.
. . . Dr. Lopez has indicated that [Plaintiff] has moderate impairment in the
ability to respond appropriately to supervision and marked impairment in
the abilities to interact appropriately with the general public, ask simple
questions or request assistance, and get along with coworkers or peers.
On the other hand, [Plaintiff] has reported that he has friends, lives with
friends, has no problems getting along with others, and gets along fair with
authority figures. He testified that he lives with his ex-father-in-law and
attends AA meetings. Dr. Jordan stated that [Plaintiff]’s ability to respond
well to coworkers and supervision is compromised to a mild degree due to
psychiatric issues. His cooperativeness has been noted. His participation
in group therapy and good interaction with other group members has been
noted at SpectraCare.
. . . Dr. Lopez has indicated that [Plaintiff] has moderate impairment in the
abilities to understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions and
repetitive tasks; perform activities within a schedule, maintain regular
attendance, and be punctual within customary tolerances; sustain a routine
without special supervision; complete a normal workday and workweek
without interruptions from psychologically based symptoms and to perform
at a consistent pace without an unreasonable number and length of rest
periods; and respond to customary work pressures.
On the other hand, [Plaintiff] has reported that he follows instructions well
and handles changes in routine fair. Dr. Jordan noted [Plaintiff]’s intact
concentration abilities and motivation, and he stated that [Plaintiff]’s ability
to carry out and remember simple, one-step instructions is not
compromised; he can do multi-step tasks without some degree of
supervision; and his ability to respond well to every day work pressures is
compromised to a mild degree due to psychiatric issues. During a
consultative evaluation on September 23, 2010, Mark B. Ellis, D.O., a
family physician, noted [Plaintiff]’s alertness, good effort, and ability to
follow simple commands and instructions without difficulty.
attentiveness has been noted on visits to SpectraCare.
Tr. 19-20 (citations omitted). Despite these contradictions, Plaintiff asserts in his brief
that “[t]he opinions of Dr. Lopez and Dr. Jordan support each other, as both of these
opinions indicate serious issues with being able to perform the mental and physical
demands of employment on a regular and continuing basis.” Pl.’s Br. (Doc. 12) at 7.
Defendant responded to this argument, “To the extent Plaintiff is arguing Dr. Jordan’s
opinion . . . was consistent with Dr. Lopez’s opinion and inconsistent with the ALJ’s
RFC, this argument is completely meritless. Any reasonable reading shows that the
ALJ’s RFC finding incorporates all of the relevant limitations from Dr. Jordan’s
opinion.” Def.’s Br. (Doc. 13) at n.9.
The court agrees, as Dr. Jordan’s opinion is, in fact, far less restrictive than that of
Dr. Lopez.5 Dr. Jordan opined that Plaintiff had “intact concentration abilities,” shortterm memory that was not compromised, generally intact long-term memory, judgment
that was not compromised, “Daily Living Skills[,] such as general cleaning and fixing
light meals,” that were not compromised, and activities of daily living that were not
limited. Tr. 356-57. Additionally, Dr. Jordan stated,
Included in the “Confidential Report for the Disability Determination Service Unit” prepared
by Dr. Jordan was a Global Assessment of Functioning [GAF] score assigned to Plaintiff, Tr.
356; however, the ALJ rejected the GAF score, stating that it was merely “a ‘snapshot’ of
[Plaintiff]’s mental functioning whereas the [RFC] in this decision is based on the longitudinal
evidence of the record” and that the “overly restrictive GAF score [wa]s inconsistent with [Dr.
Jordan’s] mental status examination results and his other medical source statements.” Tr. 24.
Plaintiff does not challenge the ALJ’s rejection of that score. Thus, the court is not persuaded
that a piece of properly rejected evidence bolsters Dr. Lopez’s opinion.
In terms of vocation, [Plaintiff]’s ability to carry out and remember
instructions of simple one-step nature is not compromised. [Plaintiff] can
do multi-step tasks without some degree of supervision. . . . [Plaintiff]’s
ability to respond well to coworkers, supervision, and everyday work
pressures is compromised to a mild degree due to psychiatric issues.
Physical issues seem to be the primary limiting factor.
Tr. 357. The mild limitations found by Dr. Jordan were addressed in the RFC, and
Plaintiff makes no argument to the contrary. Upon review, the ALJ clearly explained that
Dr. Lopez’s opinion is not supported by the record evidence. Accordingly, the ALJ
showed good cause in discounting Dr. Lopez’s opinion.
Plaintiff specifically challenges the ALJ’s statement that “[Dr. Lopez’s] statements
are apparently based on only three months of treatment and the assumption that [Plaintiff]
was actively abusing alcohol and cocaine.” Tr. 25. Considering first the ALJ’s statement
that Dr. Lopez based his opinion of three months of treatment, Plaintiff asserts that the
ALJ was incorrect and that Dr. Lopez actually treated Plaintiff for a period of over six
months, lasting from December 2, 2010, through June 6, 2011. Pl.’s Br. (Doc. 12) at 4.
However, as Defendant points out in response, Def.’s Br. (Doc. 13) at 9, Dr. Lopez
provided his opinion to the ALJ in March 2011, approximately three months after
December 2010, when the treatment began. Tr. 417. Thus, the ALJ’s statement was
accurate and Plaintiff’s argument here has no merit.
Next, considering the ALJ’s statement that Dr. Lopez based his opinion on the
assumption that Plaintiff was actively abusing alcohol and cocaine, Plaintiff asserts that
the ALJ was incorrect because Dr. Lopez’s opinion “w[as] given during periods of
sobriety, and [was] not influenced by alcohol or substance abuse.” Pl.’s Br. (Doc. 12) at
7. Defendant responds,
As Plaintiff points out, there is little support for the ALJ’s statement that
Dr. Lopez’s opinion assumed Plaintiff was actively abusing alcohol and
cocaine. However, this error was harmless because the other reasons the
ALJ identified provided good cause supported by substantial evidence for
assigning Dr. Lopez’s opinion less weight.
Def.’s Br. (Doc. 13) at 7 (citations omitted). The court agrees that, as discussed above,
substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s good cause given for assigning little weight to
the opinion of Dr. Lopez even without consideration of a history of, or present, drug use.
Additionally, the court would note that the ALJ acknowledged in at least two other
statements in the decision that Plaintiff had a history of cocaine abuse, rather than present
drug use. See Tr. 19 (“Dr. Lopez also noted [Plaintiff]’s history of cocaine abuse.”); Tr.
23 (“[Plaintiff] has a history of alcohol and cocaine abuse . . . . He testified that he
attends AA meetings, and he has been clean and sober since June 29, 2010.”). Thus, it is
clear that the ALJ had the proper evidence before him and made a harmless error in
misstating that Dr. Lopez’s opinion was based on a period of drug use.
Finally, to the extent that Plaintiff asserts that it was error for the ALJ to discount
Dr. Lopez’s opinion without first recontacting Dr. Lopez in order to obtain clarification
on the basis of his opinion, Pl.’s Br. (Doc. 12) at 8, the court is not persuaded. The ALJ’s
failure to recontact a treating source does not warrant remand unless “‘the record reveals
evidentiary gaps which result in unfairness or clear prejudice.’ The likelihood of unfair
prejudice may arise if there is an evidentiary gap that ‘the claimant contends supports
[his] allegations of disability.’” Couch v. Astrue, 267 F. App’x 853, 855 (11th Cir. 2008)
(quoting Brown v. Shalala, 44 F.3d 931, 935 (11th Cir. 1995)). It appears that the ALJ
was in possession of all of Dr. Lopez’s records, and Plaintiff does not contend that there
are additional, undisclosed records from Dr. Lopez which would have shed light on the
basis for his opinion. There is not a requirement that the ALJ recontact a treating source
merely to procure an explanation for a treating source’s opinion that is not borne out by
the source’s treatment records or other medical evidence in the record.
substantial evidence—namely plaintiff’s medical records from other treating sources and,
particularly, the opinion of the Dr. Jordan—supports the ALJ’s decision. As such, the
ALJ did not have a duty to recontact Dr. Lopez.
In sum, the ALJ’s decision is supported by substantial evidence in the record, and
Plaintiff has not shown that the ALJ lacked good cause in discounting the opinion of Dr.
B. Whether the ALJ properly applied the three-part pain standard
Plaintiff asserts “the Commissioner’s decision should be reversed because the ALJ
failed to properly apply the three-part pain standard established by the Eleventh Circuit
for adjudicating claimants based upon complaints of pain.” Pl.’s Br. (Doc. 12) at 8.
The Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has articulated its “pain standard,”
governing the evaluation of a claimant’s subjective testimony about pain, as follows:
In order to establish a disability based on testimony of pain and other
symptoms, the claimant must satisfy two parts of a three-part test showing:
(1) evidence of an underlying medical condition; and (2) either (a) objective
medical evidence confirming the severity of the alleged pain; or (b) that the
objectively determined medical condition can reasonably be expected to
give rise to the claimed pain.
Wilson v. Barnhart, 284 F.3d 1219, 1225 (11th Cir. 2002).
“Thus, the ALJ must
determine: first, whether there is an underlying medically determinable impairment that
could reasonably be expected to cause the claimant’s pain or other symptoms; and
second, the intensity and persistence of the symptoms and their effect on the claimant’s
work.” Himes v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 13-14924, 2014 WL 4783405, at *5 (11th Cir.
Sept. 26, 2014) (citing 20 C.F.R. § 416.929(a), (c)). The ALJ evaluates the “claimant’s
subjective testimony of pain” only after the claimant satisfies the first and one of the
alternate portions of the second prong of the pain standard. Foote v. Chater, 67 F.3d
1553, 1560 (11th Cir. 1995).
The Eleventh Circuit has explained that, “in certain situations, pain alone can be
disabling, even when its existence is unsupported by objective evidence.” Id. at 1561.
Importantly, it is only evidence of the underlying condition which could reasonably be
expected to cause pain, not evidence of actual pain or its severity, which must be
presented by the claimant to satisfy the “pain standard.” Elam v. R.R. Ret. Bd., 921 F.2d
1210, 1215 (11th Cir. 1991); see also Foster v. Heckler, 780 F.2d 1125, 1129 (4th Cir.
1986); Hill v. Barnhart, 440 F. Supp. 2d 1269, 1272-73 (N.D. Ala. 2006). After making
these determinations, the ALJ must then proceed to consider the claimant’s subjective
testimony about pain, and the ALJ’s decision to reject or discredit such testimony is
reviewed for substantial evidence. Marbury v. Sullivan, 957 F.2d 837, 839 (11th Cir.
Plaintiff argues that the ALJ did not apply this standard. The court does not agree.
The ALJ found that Plaintiff has degenerative disc disease, an underlying medical
condition satisfying the first prong of the pain standard. Tr. 18, 22. The ALJ also found
that Plaintiff satisfied prong two, stating “[Plaintiff]’s medically determinable
impairments could reasonably be expected to cause the alleged symptoms.” Id. In fact,
Plaintiff agrees in his brief that the ALJ made both of these findings. Thus, the ALJ
properly applied the pain standard. However, the ALJ was still obligated to consider
whether Plaintiff’s pain was disabling.
To that end, the ALJ properly made a
determination of the credibility of Plaintiff’s complaints, stating that, in light of all record
evidence of which an extensive discussion followed, “[Plaintiff’s] statements concerning
the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of these symptoms are not credible to the
extent they are inconsistent” with the RFC. Id. Plaintiff merely challenges whether the
ALJ applied the pain standard, but he does not challenge the ALJ’s credibility
determination about Plaintiff’s subjective complaints. Based on the foregoing, the court
finds no error in the ALJ’s application of the pain standard.
The court has carefully and independently reviewed the record and concludes that,
for the reasons given above, the decision of the Commissioner is AFFIRMED. A separate
judgment will issue.
Done this 17th day of December, 2014.
/s/ Wallace Capel, Jr.
WALLACE CAPEL, JR.
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?