Roberson v. Social Security Administration, Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Abdul K Kallon on 08/17/12. (CVA)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
PHILLIP L. ROBERSON,
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL
2012 Aug-17 PM 12:11
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
Civil Action Number
Plaintiff Phillip Roberson (“Roberson”) brings this action pursuant to
Section 205(g) of the Social Security Act (“the Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), seeking
review of the final adverse decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“SSA”). This Court finds that the Administrative Law Judge’s
(“ALJ”) decision - which has become the decision of the Commissioner - is
supported by substantial evidence, and, therefore, AFFIRMS the decision denying
I. Procedural History
Roberson filed his applications for Title II Disability Insurance Benefits and
Supplemental Security Income on January 21, 2008, alleging a disability onset
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date of June 2, 2006. (R. 24). After the SSA denied his application, Roberson
requested and received a hearing on September 2, 2009. (R. 39-70). At the time
of the hearing, Roberson was 53 years old with a high school diploma. (R. 39, 91,
117). Roberson has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 2, 2006,
R. 26), due to congenital myotonia, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (“COPD”), osteoporosis, and back problems, (R. 112). His past relevant
work included work as a draftsman and a resident assistant. (R. 44-46, 61).
On September 30, 2009, the ALJ denied Roberson’s claims, finding that
Roberson is capable of performing past relevant work as a draftsman and
residential assistant, (R. 32), and that Roberson has a residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform sedentary work, (R. 30). On June 13, 2011, the Appeals
Council refused to grant review. (R. 1-6). Roberson then filed this action for
judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
II. Standard of Review
The only issues before this court are whether the record contains substantial
evidence to sustain the ALJ’s decision, see 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Walden v.
Schweiker, 672 F.2d 835, 838 (11th Cir. 1982), and whether the ALJ applied the
correct legal standards, see Lamb v. Bowen, 847 F.2d 698, 701 (11th Cir. 1988);
Chester v. Bowen, 792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986). Title 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g)
and 1383(c) mandate that the Commissioner’s “factual findings are conclusive if
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supported by ‘substantial evidence.’” Martin v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520, 1529
(11th Cir. 1990). The district court may not reconsider the facts, reevaluate the
evidence, or substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner; instead, it must
review the final decision as a whole and determine if the decision is “reasonable
and supported by substantial evidence.” See id. (citing Bloodsworth v. Heckler,
703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983)).
Substantial evidence falls somewhere between a scintilla and a
preponderance of evidence; “[i]t is such relevant evidence as a reasonable person
would accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Martin, 849 F.2d at 1529
(quoting Bloodsworth, 703 F.2d at 1239) (other citations omitted). If supported by
substantial evidence, the court must affirm the Commissioner’s factual findings
even if the preponderance of the evidence is against the Commissioner’s findings.
See Martin, 894 F.2d at 1529. While the court acknowledges that judicial review
of the ALJ’s findings is limited in scope, it notes that the review “does not yield
automatic affirmance.” Lamb, 847 F.2d at 701.
III. Statutory and Regulatory Framework
To qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must show “the inability to
engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable
physical or mental impairments 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 twelve
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months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A); 42 U.S.C. § 416(I). A physical or mental
impairment is “an impairment that results from anatomical, physiological, or
psychological abnormalities which are demonstrated by medically acceptable
clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(3).
Determination of disability under the Act requires a five step analysis.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)-(f). Specifically, the Commissioner must determine in
whether the claimant is currently unemployed;
whether the claimant has a severe impairment;
whether the impairment meets or equals one listed by the Secretary;
whether the claimant is unable to perform his or her past work; and
whether the claimant is unable to perform any work in the national
McDaniel v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1030 (11th Cir. 1986). “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 ‘not disabled.’” Id. at 1030 (citing 20
C.F.R. § 416.920(a)-(f)). “Once a finding is made that a claimant cannot return to
prior work the burden shifts to the Secretary to show other work the claimant can
do.” Foote v. Chater, 67 F.3d 1553, 1559 (11th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted).
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IV. The ALJ’s Decision
Turning now to the ALJ’s decision, the court notes that, initially, the ALJ
determined that Roberson has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since
June 2, 2006, and therefore met Step One of the five step analysis. (R. 26). The
ALJ acknowledged that Roberson’s combination of COPD, cervical disc bulge,
congenital myotonic syndrome, and mild degenerative disc disease met Step Two.
Id. The ALJ proceeded to the next step and found that Roberson did not satisfy
Step Three since his impairments or combination thereof neither met nor equaled
the requirements for any listed impairment. (R. 29). Although she answered Step
Three in the negative, consistent with the law, see McDaniel, 800 F.2d at 1030, the
ALJ proceeded to Step Four where she determined that Roberson has the RFC
to perform sedentary work . . . except [Roberson] can lift/carry 10
pounds frequently, 25 pounds occasionally; sit, stand, walk six of
eight hours each; sit/stand option-no more than half in one position;
limited pushing and pulling; no manipulative, postural, visual,
communicative or environmental limitations.
(R. 30). Further, the ALJ held that Roberson is capable of performing his past
relevant work as a draftsman and residential assistant. (R. 32). Accordingly, the
ALJ determined that Roberson is not disabled. (R. 33); see also McDaniel, 800
F.2d at 1030.
The court turns now to Roberson’s contentions that the ALJ’s determination
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is not based on substantial evidence and that the ALJ failed to apply the proper
legal standards. Doc. 8 at 1. Specifically, Roberson contends that the ALJ’s RFC
findings are internally inconsistent and that the weight the ALJ assigned to the
physicians’ opinions is not based on substantial evidence. Id. at 5-12. The court
addresses each contention below.
The ALJ’s Residual Functional Capacity Findings are Internally
Roberson raises several contentions of error related to the RFC. First,
Roberson asserts that the “ALJ’s hypothetical posed to the vocational expert (VE)
does not match the [RFC] in the decision which was for sedentary work as defined
except that [Roberson] can lift 10 pounds frequently, 25 pounds occasionally; sit,
stand, walk 6 of 8 hours each, sit/stand option no more than half in one position;
limited push pulling; no manipulative, postural, visual, communicative or
environmental limitations.” Doc. 8 at 6. Specifically, Roberson contends that the
“ALJ’s RFC findings reflect a purported decrease in exertional level but with
increased lifting, omission of postural, manipulative and environmental limitations
from the RFC as posed to the VE.” Id. While Roberson is correct that the RFC
differs from the hypothetical the ALJ presented to the VE,1 Roberson overlooks
The hypothetical the ALJ posed required the VE to consider a claimant that
could occasionally lift 20 pounds, frequently lift 10 pounds, stand or walk about
six hours, sit with normal breaks six hours in an eight hour work day, push and
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that the ALJ is not obligated to rely on the VE in assessing a claimant’s RFC. In
fact, “testimony of a [VE] is only required to determine whether the claimant’s
residual functional capacity permits him to do other work after the claimant has
met his initial burden of showing that he cannot do past work.” Schnorr v. Bowen,
816 F.2d 578, 582 (11th Cir. 1987) (emphasis added). Put differently, based on
the evidence, if the ALJ concludes that the claimant is capable of performing his
past relevant work, testimony from a VE is unnecessary. Lucas v. Sullivan, 918
F.2d 1567, 1573 n.2 (11th Cir. 1990).
This is precisely what the ALJ did here – i.e., based on the medical
pull limited in upper extremities, postural limitations, occasionally climbing
ramps or stairs, no climbing ladders, ropes or scaffolds, reaching, handling and
fingering occasional, no visual or communicative limitations, environmental
avoid concentrated cold, heat, humidity, no unprotected heights, no operation of
heavy machinery . . . . limitation of only able to sit, stand or walk no more than
one half hour at a time, with a sit, stand option.
(R. 62-63). For such an individual, the VE testified that “[b]ased on the hypothetical posed, this
would allow for the capacity to perform the past relevant work as both detailer [i.e., drafter] and
resident manager as he descried the work, which is part time.” (R. 62). In contrast to the
hypothetical, in making her RFC determination, the ALJ found that Roberson can
perform sedentary work . . . except [Roberson] can lift/carry 10 pounds frequently,
25 pounds occasionally; sit, stand, walk six of eight hours each; sit/stand
option-no more than half in one position; limited pushing and pulling; no
manipulative, postural, visual, communicative or environmental limitations.
(R. 30). The RFC is supported by substantial evidence, including the May 1, 2008, Physical RFC
Assessment conducted by the Disability Examiner. (R. 598-605). The ALJ’s RFC tracked the
Physical RFC Assessment except for the lifting restrictions, which the ALJ lowered favorably for
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evidence, which includes a Physical RFC Assessment performed on May 1, 2008,
by Disability Examiner Lorene Henderson, (R. 598), the ALJ found that Roberson
can perform his past relevant work as a draftsman and residential assistant. (R.
32). As shown in Section B, infra, substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s
findings. In fact, Roberson is not alleging that the ALJ erred in finding that
Roberson can perform his past relevant work. Rather, Roberson contends that the
RFC is inconsistent with the hypothetical posed to the VE. Doc. 8 at 6. However,
because the ALJ ultimately found that Roberson can perform his past relevant
work, the ALJ had no obligation to rely on the VE’s testimony. See Lucas, 918
F.2d at 1573 n.2. In other words, that the hypothetical posed to the VE does not
precisely match the ALJ’s RFC findings is immaterial.
Second, Roberson contends that the ALJ committed error because the “VE
never directly stated that Plaintiff could return to his past relevant work as a
drafter.2 The ALJ reported only that the VE ‘appeared’ at the hearing. The ALJ
did not even report any VE testimony as to classification of Plaintiff’s past work,
merely finding that he could go back to it.” Doc. 8 at 7. Additionally, Roberson
alleges the “reliability of the VE’s response is questionable based on the
restriction of reaching, handling, and fingering, (corresponding to gross and fine
Based on the hypothetical, the VE stated that Roberson can perform other drafting jobs
such as: “architectural drafter, landscape drafter, castings drafter, detailer, [and] assistant
drafter.” (R. 63).
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manipulation) to occasional.” Id. Again, the ALJ did not have to place the same
limitations posed to the VE in Roberson’s RFC determination because the ALJ
found that Roberson could perform his past relevant work. As such, the ALJ did
not have to include in her opinion what the VE stated at the hearing. Indeed, the
ALJ made no reference to the VE’s testimony in her opinion, which suggests that
she did not rely on the VE’s testimony. See generally (R. 24-33). This is not
surprising because, ultimately, the responsibility for assessing the RFC falls on the
ALJ rather than the VE. 20 C.F.R. § 416.946. Accordingly, the ALJ committed
no error in finding that Roberson could return to his past work as a draftsman.
Third, Roberson asserts that the “ALJ’s RFC findings are not based on
substantial evidence because the RFC itself is not readily interpretable.” Doc. 8 at
7. Specifically, Roberson asserts the “ALJ found in the body of her decision that
[Roberson] can perform work of a light exertional level . . . . [However,] [i]n her
RFC findings the ALJ found that [Roberson] can perform sedentary work . . . . The
ALJ immediately followed up with a qualifier – except that he can lift 10 pounds
frequently and 25 pounds occasionally, which exceeds the lifting requirements
even for light work, let alone sedentary.” Id. at 7-8. Roberson is correct that the
ALJ stated that Roberson can perform sedentary work in her RFC and later stated
that “the evidence suggests that [Roberson] is limited, but is able to perform the
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work of a light exertional level.” (R. 30, 32). However, the ALJ’s error, if any, is
harmless because it is clear from the record that the ALJ intended for Roberson to
perform sedentary work with exceptions. Indeed, the ALJ stated clearly that
Roberson has the RFC to perform sedentary work, except that he can “lift/carry 10
pounds frequently, 25 pounds occasionally; sit, stand, walk six of eight hours
each; [and a] sit/stand option . . . .” (R. 30). Moreover, the ALJ’s finding that
Roberson “is limited, but is able to perform work of a light exertional level” is the
only reference to light work in the ALJ’s opinion and occurred in the last
paragraph of the ALJ’s analysis under Step Three, id., suggesting that it was a
simple mistake. See generally Rivera v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 6:08-cv-1720Orl-GJK, 2010 WL 680784, *3 (M.D. Fla. Feb. 24, 2010) (The court held that the
“ALJ’s reference to light work appears to be a typographical error because the
ALJ determined that the Claimant’s RFC was for sedentary work [and] [t]he . . .
referenced text is the only reference to light work in the ALJ’s opinion.”).
Furthermore, the ALJ’s sedentary RFC with exceptions is not contradicted by
Roberson’s current work and, in fact, Roberson’s past relevant work as a
draftsman and residential assistant are both classified as sedentary work. (R. 6162, 65).
Fourth, Roberson asserts that the ALJ erred by failing to clarify what she
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meant by “half” in the sit/stand option: “sit/stand option – no more than half in one
position.” (R. 30); doc. 8 at 8. Roberson asserts that if “half of the available 8
workday hours in any one function, taking standing and walking together this
would limit being on one’s feet to 4 hours and sitting to 4 hours.” Doc. 8 at 8.
This assertion is undermined by the record which shows clearly that the ALJ found
that Roberson can only “sit, stand, walk six of eight hours each” day. (R. 30). In
fact, this reference to six hours preceded the reference to “no more than half”
suggesting that the half is related to the six hours instead of the eight hours as
Plaintiff suggests. In any event, because the ALJ stated without any equivocation
that Roberson can only “sit, stand, [and] walk six of eight hours each” day, the
court agrees with the Commissioner that the “half” in the sit/stand option was a
typographical error. (R. 30, 46-47).
Fifth, Roberson notes that the “Ruling does not contemplate a sit/stand
option in the context of medium work or work lifting greater than 20 pounds.”
Doc. 8 at 8. This argument is also unavailing because Roberson points to nothing
that states his past relevant work cannot accommodate a sit/stand option. Notably,
when asked at the hearing how much time he spends sitting or standing as a
residential assistant, Roberson stated that “it varies because I can’t stand or sit for
long periods of time . . . . Half an hour at a time is about without really getting hurt
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bad is all I can go.” (R. 47). This response suggests, of course, that he has control
over how long he sits and stands on that job. Likewise, Roberson has control over
how long he sits or stands on his drafting job since he performs it from home. (R.
Finally, Roberson contends that “the ALJ found pushing/pulling to be
‘limited’[, but] [s]he did not state to what degree, whether frequent or occasional,
or with which extremities, upper, lower, or both.” Doc. 8 at 9. The omission is
harmless because the ALJ’s RFC determination is still sufficiently detailed to
support the ALJ’s finding that Roberson can perform his past relevant work.
The ALJ’s Findings Assigning Weight to the Physician’s Opinion is
Based on Substantial Evidence
Roberson’s other contention of error is related to the weight the ALJ
assigned to Dr. Stephen E. Collier’s (“Dr. Collier”) opinion. Specifically,
Roberson claims the “ALJ gave great weight to the purported opinion of
[Roberson’s] treating physician, Dr. Collier in 2006 that [Roberson’s] level of pain
was adequate to allow him to be gainfully employed. In fact [the ALJ] afforded
this ‘opinion’ greater weight than that of the consultative physician who examined
[Roberson] in April 2008.” Doc. 8 at 9.
In light of Roberson’s contentions, the court must review Dr. Collier’s
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treatment notes to see if they support Roberson or the ALJ. In that regard, the
court notes that on January 24, 2006, Roberson visited Dr. Collier “with a history
of congenital myotonic syndrome, causing chronic pain and muscle spasticity.”
(R. 411). Roberson had no chest pain, shortness of breath, fever, chills, sweats,
joint pain, or further headaches. Id. Additionally, Roberson appeared welldeveloped, in no acute distress, with a regular heart rate, and clear lungs. Id.
Roberson returned to Dr. Collier a month later, on February 21, 2006, again with a
history of congential myotonic syndrome and with no changes to his anxiety and
nocturnal myoclonus. (R. 408). However, Dr. Collier noted that the “intensity and
frequency of [Roberson’s] symptoms are managed pretty well” and that Roberson
had no chest pain, shortness of breath, fever, chills, sweats, joint pain, or
headaches. Id. Roberson returned a month later, on March 20, 2006, during
which Dr. Collier found no changes to Roberson’s chronic generalized fatigue,
malaise, and weakness. (R. 406). Dr. Collier found also that Roberson had no
chest pain, acute distress, shortness of breath, respiratory, or GI or GU complaints,
but that Roberson had a mildly positive bilateral straight leg raise test and
moderate paraspinal spasm and tenderness at L3-S1. Id.
The next month, on April 17, 2006, Dr. Collier noted that the intensity and
frequency of Roberson’s symptoms remained unchanged and that Roberson’s pain
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control was reasonably adequate. (R. 402). Once again, Roberson had no chest
pain, shortness of breath, or acute distress. Id. Roberson again had a mildly
positive bilateral straight leg raise test and moderate paraspinal spasm and
tenderness at L3-S1. Id. Six weeks later, on May 31, 2006, Roberson visited Dr.
Collier with a history of hypertension and had an unremarkable physical
examination despite Roberson’s increased complaints of anxiety. (R. 400).
Roberson had four more visits to Dr. Collier, beginning on June 15, 2006, when he
presented with a diagnosis of congenital myotonic syndrome, causing chronic pain
and muscle spasticity. (R. 399). Dr. Collier noted no changes to Roberson’s
chronic generalized fatigue, malaise, and weakness, and opined that Roberson’s
current level of pain control is “reasonably adequate to allow him to be
employed.” Id. Roberson returned on July 13, 2006, during which Dr. Collier
found again that Roberson’s level of pain control was adequate, a decrease in the
intensity and frequency of Roberson’s symptoms, and no acute distress. Id. The
third visit occurred almost a month later, when on August 9, 2006, Dr. Collier
noted that Roberson’s pain control was still reasonably adequate and that
Roberson had no new complaints. (R. 397). The last visit documented in the
record occurred on September 6, 2006, during which Dr. Collier opined again that
Roberson’s level of pain control was adequate to allow for gainful employment
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and that Roberson had no new complaints. (R. 396).
Failure to Rely on Consultive Examination
Roberson takes issue with the ALJ’s reliance on Dr. Collier’s opinion and
contends that the ALJ should have given greater weight instead to the consulting
physician Dr. M. Clarke Woodfin (“Dr. Woodfin”), who opined that because of
Roberson’s back pain, “he can’t lift and carry more than 5 to 10lbs . . . can’t sit
longer than 10 to 15 minutes, can’t be on his feet longer than 10 to 15 minutes.”
(R. 577). Moreover, Dr. Woodfin acknowledged that Roberson has a problem
with myotonia congenita because it took Roberson up to one minute to straighten
his fingers and use them in a normal fashion during a grip strength test. (R. 579).
According to Roberson, the ALJ “failed to adequately explain why [Dr.
Woodfin’s] opinion should not be valid or why a statement made by [Roberson]
within three months of [the] onset date two years earlier should take precedence . .
. .” Doc. 8 at 9-10.
The court disagrees with Roberson’s assertion because Dr. Woodfin’s
examination entries actually undermine Roberson’s contentions. For example, Dr.
Woodfin noted that Roberson appeared alert, pleasant, and cooperative during the
examination, that Roberson sat for 25 minutes without getting up and moving
around, that Roberson “[e]quivocally acts like someone with back pain” but used
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no assistive device, rose slowly from sitting, sat down in a normal fashion, moved
about the room without apparent physical limitations, and sat on the examination
table without difficulty. (R. 578). Notably, Dr. Woodfin stated that “[o]n the table
[Roberson] goes from sitting to supine to sitting by contracting the abdominal
musculature, not by turning to one side to left himself up or down with the arms as
someone with a bad back problem might do.” Id. Critically, by Roberson’s own
admission, Dr. Woodfin conducted a pain-free examination. Id. Moreover, Dr.
Woodfin opined that Roberson can prevent his back problems: “This would seem
to be an avoidance-type back; e.g., if he avoids frequent bending and heavy lifting
he should get along fairly well.” (R. 579). Based on this court’s review of the
record, contrary to Roberson’s contentions, Dr. Woodfin’s findings do not support
Roberson’s claim that he is disabled.
As to Roberson’s contention that the ALJ “[f]ailed to adequately explain
why [Dr. Woodfin’s] opinion should not be valid or why a statement made by
[Roberson] within three months of onset two years earlier should take precedence
. . . .,” doc. 8 at 10, the ALJ specifically stated that she found Dr. Collier’s opinion
“consistent with the record as a whole. The opinion of Dr. Collier is based on
regular and continuing treatment of [Roberson]. The undersigned finds no
substantive evidence inconsistent with the assessment of Dr. Collier.” (R. 32).
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The ALJ then stated that she “considered the opinion of Dr. Woodfin and gives it
non-controlling weight. The opinion of Dr. Woodfin is based on a one time
examination of the claimant.” Id. Therefore, assigning “significant weight” to Dr.
Collier’s opinion is not evidence of error because, in determining whether a
claimant is disabled, the ALJ “will always consider the medical opinions in [the]
case record together with the rest of the relevant evidence [she] received.” 20
C.F.R. § 404.1527. Furthermore, “the ALJ may reject any contrary finding.”
Sharfarz v. Bowen, 825 F.2d 278, 280 (11th Cir. 1987). In fact, it is well
established that “the testimony of a treating physician must be given substantial or
considerable weight unless ‘good cause’ is shown to the contrary.” Lewis v.
Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1440 (11th Cir. 1997); see also 20 C.F.R. §
416.927(c)(2) (Under the Regulations, “[g]enerally we give more weight to the
opinions from your treating sources, since these sources are likely to be the
medical professionals most able to provide a detailed longitudinal picture of your
medical impairment and may bring a unique perspective to the medical evidence
that cannot be obtained from the objective medical findings or from reports of
individual examinations, such as consultative examinations.”). Critically,
Roberson failed to present any “good cause” to show why he claims Dr. Collier’s
opinion should not have received substantial or considerable weight.
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Alleged Improper Reliance on Treating Physician
Roberson alleges next that the “problem with the ALJ’s analysis is that the
‘opinion’ on which she relied was not an express opinion by [Dr. Collier] at all but
rather, a statement on September 6, 2006, within the ‘subjective’ part of the notes,
which may reasonably be attributed to [Roberson] rather than [Dr. Collier] . . . .”
Doc. 8 at 11. Additionally, Roberson contends that “[e]ven if [the opinion] could
be counted as an opinion, it would be an inadequate statement on which to rely in
order to derive an RFC.” Id. These contentions are also unavailing. The
September 6, 2006, opinion specifically stated, in part, that Roberson’s “level of
pain control is adequate to allow him to be gainfully employed.” (R. 396).
Moreover, as the Commissioner stated, “[e]ven if the statement at issue were [sic]
not considered Dr. Collier’s opinion, the ALJ had no reason to discount
[Roberson’s] own admission that he could work.” Doc. 9 at 13. Furthermore,
again the ALJ gave Dr. Collier’s opinion significant weight because it was
consistent with the record as a whole. Thus, Roberson is incorrect that the ALJ
relied solely on Dr. Collier’s opinion to derive the RFC. To the contrary, she
considered the record as a whole.
Alleged Failure to Consider Acute Pancreatitis
Roberson contends next that the evidence accounting for his pain due to
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acute pancreatitis superseded Dr. Collier’s opinion and that “for some reason the
ALJ did not consider [the pancreatitis] important enough to report.” Doc. 8 at 12.
Roberson is incorrect because the ALJ specifically noted that “[w]hile the claimant
was hospitalized on several occasions from June 2008 to October 2008 for acute
pancreatitis, there is no evidence in the record that the claimant has had any other
symptoms or problems related to this. Therefore, this impairment does not pose
any significant limitations on [Roberson’s] ability to perform work related
activities and is non-severe.” (R. 28). In other words, the ALJ committed no error
because she considered Roberson’s pancreatitis and found that it did not render
Alleged Failure to Consider Age, Education, and Work
Finally, as to Roberson’s contentions that “ALJ’s RFC findings are further
not based on substantial evidence because she did not take into account the age,
education and vocational factors as required,” doc. 8 at 12, the court notes that the
ALJ only has to consider the claimant’s age, education, and work experience in
decisions where she finds that a claimant cannot return to past relevant work. 20
C.F.R. 404.1520(f)-(g). Again, here, the ALJ found that Roberson can, in fact,
perform his past relevant work. Therefore, the ALJ committed no error.
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Based on the foregoing, the court concludes that the ALJ’s determination
that Roberson is not disabled is supported by substantial evidence, and that the
ALJ applied proper legal standards in reaching this determination. The final
decision of the Commissioner is, therefore, AFFIRMED. A separate order in
accordance with this memorandum of decision will be entered.
Done the 17th day of August, 2012.
ABDUL K. KALLON
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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