Williams v. Social Security Administration, Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION as more fully set out in order. Signed by Magistrate-Judge Harwell G Davis, III on 01/15/14. (SPT )
2014 Jan-15 PM 01:32
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
JAMES R. WILLIAMS, JR.,
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE,
COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY
) Case No. 5:12-cv-03412-HGD
In this action under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3), plaintiff seeks judicial
review of an adverse social security ruling which denied claims for disability
insurance benefits (hereinafter DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (hereinafter
SSI). (Doc.1). The parties filed written consent and this action has been referred to
the undersigned Magistrate Judge to conduct all proceedings and order the entry of
judgment in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 73. (See Doc. 13).
Upon consideration of the administrative record and the memoranda of the parties,
the court finds that the decision of the Commissioner is due to be affirmed and this
Page 1 of 19
Plaintiff filed applications for disability, DIB and SSI benefits on February 11,
2009. (Tr. 14, 118, 125, 152). Plaintiff, a college-educated certified public
accountant (Tr. 52), alleged an onset date of December 31, 2005, due to obsessivecompulsive disorder (OCD) and depression. (Tr. 64). Although plaintiff testified that
he had prepared a few tax returns “[u]p until April 15, last year,” he also stated that
it was “mostly for friends.” (Tr. 53). Plaintiff’s claims for disability benefits were
initially denied on May 12, 2009. (Tr. 14). A written request for a hearing was filed
on June 11, 2009. (Id.). That hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ) by video conference on September 7, 2010. (Id.). On November 10, 2010, the
ALJ issued a decision denying plaintiff’s applications. (Tr. 14-30). The Appeals
Council denied plaintiff’s Request for Review. (Tr. 105). After the Appeals Council
denied plaintiff’s request for review of the ALJ’s decision, that decision became the
final decision of the Commissioner, and therefore a proper subject of this court’s
appellate review. 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3).
Disability under the Social Security Act is determined under a five-step test.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. First, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant is
engaging in substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i). “Substantial
work activity” is work that involves doing significant physical or mental activities.
Page 2 of 19
20 C.F.R. § 404.1572(a). “Gainful work activity” is work that is done for pay or
profit. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(b). Second, the ALJ must determine whether the
claimant has a medically determinable impairment or a combination of medical
impairments that significantly limits the claimant’s ability to perform basic work
activities. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(ii). Absent such impairment, the claimant may
not claim disability. Id. Third, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant’s
impairment meets or medically equals the criteria listed in 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart
P, Appendix 1. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526. If such
criteria are met, the claimant is declared disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iii).
If the claimant does not fulfill the requirements necessary to be declared
disabled under the third step, the ALJ may still find disability under the next two
steps of the analysis. The ALJ first must determine the claimant’s residual functional
capacity (RFC), which refers to the claimant’s ability to work despite his
impairments. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(e). In the fourth step, the ALJ determines
whether the claimant has the RFC to perform past relevant work. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a)(4)(iv). If the claimant is determined to be capable of performing past
relevant work, then the claimant is deemed not disabled. Id. If the ALJ finds that the
claimant is unable to perform past relevant work, then the analysis proceeds to the
fifth and final step. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(v). In the last part of the analysis, the
ALJ must determine whether the claimant is able to perform any other work
Page 3 of 19
commensurate with his RFC, age, education and work experience. 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(g). Here, the burden of proof shifts from the claimant to the ALJ to prove
the existence in significant numbers of jobs in the national economy that the claimant
can do given the RFC, age, education and work experience.
§§ 404.1520(g), 404.1560(c).
The ALJ strictly adhered to this decision-making protocol. At the time of the
ALJ’s decision, plaintiff was 50 years old with a college education and work
experience as a certified public accountant. (Tr. 52, 83). After consideration of the
entire record, including plaintiff’s testimony, the ALJ found that plaintiff had the
residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels,
but he could not climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; must avoid concentrated exposure
to hazards; and was limited to “simple one-or two-step tasks in a low stress
environment that required only occasional contact with the public and occasional
conversation and interpersonal interaction with co-workers.” (Tr. 20). Relying on
testimony from a vocational expert (VE), the ALJ found that plaintiff could perform
other jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy. (Tr. 30, 8485). The ALJ ultimately concluded that plaintiff was not disabled. (Tr. 30). The
Commissioner has adopted the ALJ’s facts as stated in his decision.
Page 4 of 19
Plaintiff’s Argument for Reversal
Plaintiff seeks to have the Commissioner’s decision reversed. Plaintiff argues
that the ALJ misapplied the “treating physician rule” and, had it been properly
applied, he would have been obligated to find that plaintiff was disabled within the
meaning of Social Security law. In the alternative to this Court finding that plaintiff
is disabled, plaintiff asserts that this case should be remanded for proper
consideration of the evidence and for proper application of the law. (Pl. Brief at 2-3).
Plaintiff states that he does not dispute the findings the ALJ made that he
suffered severe medical impairments described as obsessive compulsive disorder,
depression, bi-polar disorder, and a history of opiate dependence. (Id. at 4).
However, it is plaintiff’s position that the negative impact of plaintiff’s multiple
severe emotional problems is far more severe than the ALJ acknowledges in his
decision. Plaintiff asserts that the severity, frequency and intensity of the emotional
or cognitive problems would effectively preclude plaintiff from engaging in
substantial gainful work activity on a sustained basis. (Id. at 5).
Standard of Review
The only issues before this court are whether the record reveals 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 correct legal standards were
applied. See Lamb v. Bowen, 847 F.2d 698, 701 (11th Cir. 1988); Chester v. Brown,
Page 5 of 19
792 F.2d 129, 131 (11th Cir. 1986). Title 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) mandates that the
Commissioner’s findings are conclusive if supported by “substantial evidence.”
Martin v. Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990). The district court may not
reconsider the facts, re-evaluate 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, 894 F.2d at 1529 (quoting Bloodsworth,
703 F.2d at 1239) (other citations omitted). If supported by substantial evidence, the
Commissioner’s factual findings must be affirmed even if the evidence preponderates
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, the Court
also notes that review “does not yield automatic affirmance.” Lamb, 847 F.2d at 701.
The ALJ found that plaintiff had the following severe impairments: obsessive-
compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, bi-polar disorder, history of opiate
dependence and headaches. (Tr. 16). The ALJ further found that the “severe”
combination of these medically determinable impairments significantly limited
Page 6 of 19
plaintiff’s ability to perform basic work activities. (Id.). He stated that the severe
nature of these impairments restricted plaintiff’s ability to climb ladders, ropes and
scaffolds, his ability to be exposed to workplace hazards and to perform skilled work
and interact with the public and co-workers. (Id.).
According to the ALJ, plaintiff began seeking treatment for headaches and
began complaining of symptoms of OCD, depression and anxiety in 2005. (Tr. 17).
In November 2008, plaintiff was treated on a short inpatient basis for what plaintiff
described as depression with mood swings and racing thoughts. At admission,
plaintiff was assigned a global assessment of functioning (GAF) score of 30, which
indicates serious impairment in mental functioning at that time. He was diagnosed
with major depressive disorder, recurrent severe, without psychotic features; OCD;
opiate dependence; substance-induced mood disorder (resolved); rule-out
amphetamine abuse; and rule-out bipolar disorder, not otherwise specified. (Id. at
One month after admission for mental impairment, the discharge diagnoses
were reaffirmed by Dr. Penland of Alabama Psychiatric Services. In December 2009,
Dr. Puri of MedCare noted that plaintiff was “very fidgety” and hyperactive with
slurred speech, and he was “acting very inappropriately.” Dr. Puri listed diagnoses
of bipolar disorder, OCD and schizophrenia.
Page 7 of 19
Plaintiff was hospitalized for
approximately three days in November 2009 for treatment of mood disorder and
The ALJ also noted that the medical records reflect that, between March 10,
2010, and April 22, 2010, plaintiff was treated on an outpatient basis in a chemical
dependency program. At discharge, plaintiff was diagnosed with opiate dependence;
sedative or anxiolytic dependence; bipolar disorder, type II, depressed with psychotic
features; and OCD. (Id.).
According to the ALJ, in September 2010, Dr. Penland indicated in a medical
source statement that plaintiff’s mental impairments, which he diagnosed as opiate
dependence, sedative hypnotic dependence, bipolar disorder and OCD, would cause
significant limitations with plaintiff’s ability to complete the mental abilities and
aptitudes of work at all skill levels. (Id.). Throughout the record, plaintiff was
prescribed a variety of psychotropic medications such as Paxil, Lamictal and Lithium,
among others. (Id.).
Nonetheless, the ALJ noted that neither plaintiff nor his representative contend
that plaintiff’s impairments, singly or in combination, meet or medically equal any
of the Listed Impairments described in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
With regard to plaintiff’s activities of daily living, the ALJ stated that the
plaintiff has moderate restriction:
Page 8 of 19
A review of the record substantiates that, at various points since the
alleged onset date, claimant has admitted that he could build a deck; fly
model airplanes; paint the trim on his house; be the primary caretaker of
his elderly mother; appropriately answer questions posed by physicians
and at the hearing; complete up to 15 federal and state tax returns each
year; handle his personal care independently; drive several times per
week; shop in stores; pick up takeout orders of food; check his email on
a regular basis; watch TV; cook; wash clothes; wash dishes; fold
clothes; sweep; vacuum; take out the trash; dust; clean the bathroom,
living room and kitchen; cut the grass; use a weed whacker and edger;
and pick up around the exterior of his home. (2F/1, 3F/2, 3F/5, 7F/3,
11F/4, 13, 15, 28, 18F/8 and testimony)
In social functioning, the claimant has moderate difficulties, which is
more restrictive than the determination of the State Agency
psychological consultant. (9F). Claimant reported that he has a very
limited social life and that he spends most of his time at home (7F/3 and
testimony). Nonetheless, claimant attends church occasionally, visits
with friends occasionally, drives several times per week, shops in stores,
visits with his sister, completes tax returns for friends and family, lives
with his elderly mother, and goes to pick up takeout orders of food
(testimony and 7F/3).
With regard to concentration, persistence, or pace, the claimant has
moderate difficulties, which is consistent with the determination of the
State agency psychological consultant. (9F). A review of the record
substantiates that, at various points since the alleged onset date, claimant
has admitted that he could build a deck; fly model airplanes; paint the
trim on his house; be the primary caretaker of his elderly mother;
appropriately answer questions posed by physicians and at the hearing;
complete up to 15 federal and state tax returns each year; handle his
personal care independently; drive several times per week; shop in
stores; pick up takeout orders of food; check his email on a regular
basis; watch TV; and perform chores inside and outside the home.
(2F/1, 3F/2, 3F/5, 7F/3, 11F/4, 13, 15, 28, 18F/8 and testimony).
As for episodes of decompensation, the claimant has experienced one to
two episodes of decompensation, each of extended duration, which is
consistent with the determination of the State agency psychological
Page 9 of 19
consultant (9F). Claimant was hospitalized in November 2008 and
November 2009 for treatment related to mental impairments; however,
the hospitalizations are brief and infrequent (2F/4-6, 18F, and 19F).
Furthermore, the treating psychiatrist indicated that between September
2009 and September 2010, claimant had a global assessment of
functioning score of 65 to 70, which suggests that he had no more than
mild symptoms. (24F).
(Tr. 19) (underlining in original).
With regard to plaintiff’s residual functional capacity, the ALJ stated:
After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant
has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all
exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations:
Claimant could never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. Claimant
should avoid concentrated exposure to hazards. Claimant could perform
simple one or two-step tasks in a low stress work environment requiring
occasional contact with the public and occasional conversation and
interpersonal interaction with coworkers.
Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ did not give sufficient weight to the opinions of
his treating physician, Dr. Penland. He notes that consultative psychologist, William
D. McDonald, Ph.D., indicated that plaintiff’s emotional problems would inhibit
plaintiff’s ability to follow through with tasks in a timely fashion and that plaintiff
would have difficulty coping with work pressures. (Tr. 276).
He also noted that the state agency non-examining psychologist, Dr. Jackson,
identified significant symptomology associated with OCD and concluded that
plaintiff would likely miss one to two days of work per month dealing with
Page 10 of 19
psychological issues and that he would have difficulty performing activities within
a schedule. (Tr. 296).
Dr. Heath Penland, plaintiff’s treating psychiatrist, has treated plaintiff since
December 2008. (Tr. 663). He has treated plaintiff for opiate dependence, OCD and
physical problems, including migraine headaches and hyplipidemia. It was Dr.
Penland’s opinion that plaintiff is unable to meet competitive standards as they relate
to being able to complete a normal work day and work week without interruption
from psychologically based symptoms, that he is unable to meet competitive
standards performing at a consistent pace without an unreasonable number and length
of rest periods, that he is unable to meet the competitive standards for responding
appropriately to changes in the routine work setting, and that he is unable to meet
competitive standards dealing with normal work stress. According to Dr. Penland,
plaintiff’s mood instability interferes with his ability to sustain attention, and make
realistic and independent plans and carry them out. He would also be subject to
excessive absenteeism. (Tr. 666-67).
Plaintiff also noted that, at the evidentiary heating, the VE testified that
excessive absenteeism or excessive breaks would preclude plaintiff from performing
any of the jobs that the VE had mentioned. (Tr. 86).
Page 11 of 19
Based on this testimony, plaintiff asserts that he is, in fact, disabled and that to
conclude otherwise, the ALJ had to and did, in fact, disregard the testimony of
plaintiff’s treating physician without good cause.
In determining whether a disability exists, the ALJ must give the opinion of the
treating physician “substantial or considerable weight unless ‘good cause’ is shown
to the contrary.” Phillips v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 1232, 1240 (11th Cir. 2004) (citation
omitted) (quoting Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1440 (11th Cir. 1997)). This is
true even if the physician did not treat the claimant until after the relevant period. See
Boyd v. Heckler, 704 F.2d 1207, 1211 (11th Cir. 1983), superseded by statute on
other grounds, as recognized in Hand v. Heckler, 761 F.2d 1545, 1548 n.4 (11th Cir.
1985). The ALJ is not, however, required to give controlling weight to issues
reserved for the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(e). Issues such as whether
a claimant is disabled, unable to work, or has an impairment that meets the Social
Security listings fall into that category. Id.
Good cause for giving the treating physician’s opinion less weight exists when
(1) the treating physician’s conclusion is not supported by the evidence, (2) the
evidence supported a contrary finding, or (3) the opinion offered is conclusory or
inconsistent with the treating physician’s medical records. See Phillips, 357 F.3d at
1240-41. Additionally, the claimant’s daily activities can contradict the treating
physician’s opinion and lessen its credibility. See id. at 1241. “The ALJ must clearly
Page 12 of 19
articulate the reasons for giving less weight to the opinion of a treating physician, and
the failure to do so is reversible error.” Lewis, 125 F.3d at 1440. If the ALJ does
state specific reasons, however, failure to give the treating physician’s opinion
controlling weight is not reversible error so long as it is supported by substantial
evidence. See Moore v. Barnhart, 405 F.3d 1208, 1212 (11th Cir. 2005) (per
When a treating physician’s opinion does not warrant controlling weight, the
ALJ must nevertheless weigh the medical opinion based on: (1) the length of the
treatment relationship and the frequency of examination; (2) the nature and extent of
the treatment relationship; (3) the medical evidence and explanation supporting the
opinion; (4) consistency with the record as a whole; (5) specialization in the pertinent
medical issues; and (6) other factors that tend to support or contradict the opinion.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c).
The ultimate issue, whether plaintiff is disabled, is left to the determination of
the Commissioner, and thus Dr. Penland’s opinion that plaintiff could not work a
typical day or week is not binding on the ALJ. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(e)(1).
Furthermore, the ALJ gave “substantial weight” to Dr. Penland’s opinion with respect
to the portions of the assessment that were consistent with plaintiff’s mental RFC, and
he discussed Dr. Penland’s conclusions that reflected a capability to perform work
activity. (Tr. 27, 665-66).
Page 13 of 19
For instance, Dr. Penland noted that plaintiff has a “limited but satisfactory”
ability to remember work-like procedures; understand and remember very short and
simple instructions; carry out very short and simple instructions; maintain regular
attendance and be punctual within customary, usually strict tolerances; accept
instructions and respond appropriately to criticism from supervisors; be aware of
normal hazards and take appropriate precautions; understand and remember detailed
instructions; interact appropriately with the general public; maintain socially
appropriate behavior; travel in unfamiliar places; and use public transportation. (Tr.
However, the ALJ gave “little weight” to the remainder of Dr. Penland’s
opinion and explained the reasons for this determination in great detail. (Tr. 27-28).
For instance, the ALJ gave little weight to Dr. Penland’s opinion that plaintiff was
“seriously limited but not precluded” or “unable to meet competitive standards” in 13
out of 25 measurable categories of mental work-related activities identified on the
mental assessment form. (Tr. 665-66). He also opined that plaintiff would be absent
from work for more than four days per month. (Tr. 667).
Before the ALJ explained his reasoning for giving “little weight” to some of
Dr. Penland’s opinions, he noted that the medical records themselves do not support
that the severity of plaintiff’s symptoms, limitations, and side effects of medication
are such that plaintiff is disabled from work activity that is consistent with the RFC.
Page 14 of 19
The ALJ noted that plaintiff admitted that he had not looked for occupations that are
less demanding or less skilled than accounting, but he indicated that he could work
less demanding jobs, such as those requiring him to answer a telephone. However,
he has not attempted to work these less demanding jobs because he feels that this
work would be demeaning and not financially supportive. Nevertheless, the ALJ
concluded plaintiff retains the ability to meet the demands of unskilled work with the
additional limitations contained in the RFC. (Tr. 22).
The ALJ also cited evidence which reflected that plaintiff was not compliant
with recommended medical treatments (Tr. 24), that he continued to work after the
alleged onset date or, if not, that he purposely misled his doctors in order to procure
prescriptions (Tr. 24-25), that he exhibited drug-seeking behavior which undermines
his allegations (Tr. 25), that he has alleged significant negative side effects from his
medication which medical records indicate he previously denied or did not report on
a consistent basis (Tr. 25-26), and that his daily activities reflect that he is able to
perform within the stated RFC. (Tr. 26). Furthermore, plaintiff admitted to the ALJ
at the evidentiary hearing that he “fibbed” to his physicians in order to get
medications such as Paxil. According to the ALJ, this undermined the value of his
complaints at the hearing and in the medical records. (Id.).
With regard to those parts of Dr. Penland’s opinion to which he gave little
weight, the ALJ stated:
Page 15 of 19
On the other hand, Dr. Penland surmised that claimant could not meet
the competitive standards to complete a normal workday without
psychologically based interruptions, respond to changes in a routine
setting, deal with normal work stress, or set realistic goals or make plans
independently of others. Dr. Penland added that claimant would require
an unreasonable number and length of rest periods in a work period, and
he would be absent from work more than four days per month. I give
these opinions little weight.
Dr. Penland lacks the vocational expertise to offer opinions that
claimant would require an unreasonable number and length of rest
periods during the day. Furthermore, Dr. Penland reports that he has
treated the claimant on about a monthly basis since December 2008.
Indeed, the treating relationship began in December 2008, but most
often, the claimant sought treatment every three months. Furthermore,
Dr. Penland recommended that the claimant follow-up every three
months. Likewise, the nature of the treatment notes suggests that the
focus of the sessions is opiate dependence, and to a lesser extent, the
complaints associated with OCD, depression, anxiety, or bipolar
disorder. Moreover, Dr. Penland indicated that claimant had a GAF
score of 65 to 70 from September 2009 to September 2010, which
suggests that claimant experienced only mild symptoms during that
time. Additionally, claimant has been hospitalized on at least two
occasions, but in both instances, he was released within three days. Dr.
Penland undoubtably relies on claimant’s subjective complaints, but the
claimant’s credibility is low, and the repeated drug-seeking behavior and
admitted false statements to physicians undermines any conclusions Dr.
Penland formulates based on the claimant’s statements during treatment
sessions. Lastly, Dr. Penland did not consistently indicate in his
treatment notes that claimant had work related limitations. Not until
claimant presented Dr. Penland with a functional capacity questionnaire
did Dr. Penland articulate any work restrictions and Dr. Penland did not
contemporaneously provide the reported limitations in the ordinary
course of treatment. Claimant had not been treated by Dr. Penland since
May 2010, and there are no treatment records to accompany the medical
source statement from September 2010 (4F, 22F, and 24F).
Page 16 of 19
In contrast, the ALJ gave “great weight” to the opinions offered by Dr.
McDonald insofar as his opinions are consistent with the RFC. (Tr. 28). Although
Dr. McDonald did not quantify plaintiff’s work capacity and level of limitation, he
examined plaintiff and was provided an opportunity to observe, interview and
perform a mental status examination of him, as well as review the available medical
records. (Tr. 28). Based on this, Dr. McDonald pointed out that plaintiff’s ability to
understand, carry out and remember instructions is at least mildly impaired, that
plaintiff’s ability to follow through with tasks in a timely fashion is significantly
impaired, and that claimant is likely to have difficulty coping with work pressures.
Consequently, the RFC and the consultative opinion are consistent. According to the
The residual functional capacity recognizes that claimant is limited to
unskilled work with additional limitations regarding interpersonal
interactions, which is consistent with the wording of Dr. McDonald’s
findings. Additionally, the statements are consistent with the objective
clinical signs reported by Dr. McDonald, as well as the brief
hospitalizations, the claimant’s diminished credibility, the effectiveness
of the medications as reported by the claimant, and the claimant’s
activities of daily living.
The ALJ also gave great weight to the opinions of the State agency medical
consultants because they are highly-qualified physicians and their opinions are
consistent with the medical records that they reviewed and with the record as a whole.
Page 17 of 19
(Id.). For instance, the claimant’s hospitalizations for mental impairments have been
brief; the claimant admits to being untruthful with his physicians; the claimant
exhibits drug-seeking behavior; he admits that the medications are effective in some
instances; he can perform a variety of daily activities; and the record does not
substantiate that there was an exacerbation of symptoms around the alleged onset
date. Further, the ALJ noted that claimant worked with the same impairments that he
now alleges are disabling. (Id.).
Thus, the ALJ rejected some of the opinions of Dr. Penland because his
conclusions were not supported by the evidence; the evidence supported a contrary
finding; or the opinion offered was conclusory or inconsistent with the treating
physician’s medical records. These are valid bases for rejecting the opinion of a
treating physician. See Phillips, 357 F.3d at 1240-41. The decision provided by the
ALJ is an articulation of specific reasons for giving little weight to parts of Dr.
Penland’s September 2010 assessment of plaintiff. Because there is good cause to
discount parts of the treating physician’s opinion, the ALJ acted within his authority
by partially discounting Dr. Penland’s opinion while giving “substantial weight” to
those conclusions that are consistent with the ALJ’s RFC findings. Phillips, 357 F.3d
Accordingly, upon review of the administrative record, and considering all of
plaintiff’s arguments, the Court finds the Commissioner’s decision is supported by
Page 18 of 19
substantial evidence and in accord with the applicable law. Therefore, that decision
is due to be affirmed. A separate order will be entered.
DONE this 15th day of January, 2014.
HARWELL G. DAVIS, III
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Page 19 of 19
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?