Oliver v. Social Security Administration, Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala on 9/19/14. (ASL)
2014 Sep-19 PM 02:05
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
ADDIE MICHELLE OLIVER,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting
Commissioner, Social Security
Case No.: 6:13-CV-01320-MHH
Plaintiff Addie Michelle Oliver brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g) and § 1383(c)(3) seeking judicial review of a final adverse decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security, affirming the decision of the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) who denied Ms. Oliver’s Title II claim for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits, and her Title XVI claim for supplemental security
income. (TR 1-3). After careful review, the Court finds that substantial evidence
supports the ALJ’s decision. Therefore, the Court affirms the Commissioner’s
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The scope of review in this matter is limited. “When, as in this case, the
ALJ denies benefits and the Appeals Council denies review,” the Court “review[s]
the ALJ’s ‘factual findings with deference’ and her ‘legal conclusions with close
scrutiny.’” Riggs v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 522 Fed. Appx. 509, 510-11 (11th Cir.
2013) (quoting Doughty v. Apfel, 245 F.3d 1274, 1278 (11th Cir. 2001)).
The Court must determine whether there is substantial evidence in the record
to support the ALJ’s findings. “Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla and is
such relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to support
a conclusion.” Crawford v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir.
2004). In making this evaluation, the Court may not “reweigh the evidence or
decide the facts anew,” and the Court must “defer to the ALJ’s decision if it is
supported by substantial evidence even if the evidence may preponderate against
it.” Gaskin v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 533 Fed. Appx 929, 930 (11th Cir. 2013).
With respect to the ALJ’s legal conclusions, the Court must determine
whether the ALJ applied the correct legal standards. If the Court finds an error in
the ALJ’s application of the law, or if the Court finds that the ALJ failed to provide
sufficient reasoning to demonstrate that the ALJ conducted a proper legal analysis,
then the Court must reverse the ALJ’s decision. Cornelius v. Sullivan, 936 F.2d
1143, 1145-46 (11th Cir. 1991).
PROCEDURAL AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
On August 11, 2009, Ms. Oliver1 filed an application for a period of
disability and disability insurance benefits and an application for supplemental
security income. 2 (Doc. 10, p. 1; TR 12). In both applications, Ms. Oliver alleged
that her disability began on January 15, 2009. (TR 12, 114, 122). 3 The Social
Security Administration denied both claims on November 13, 2009. (TR 73-74).
Ms. Oliver then filed a written request on December 18, 2009 for a hearing before
an ALJ. (Doc. 10, p. 1; TR 80).
The ALJ held an initial hearing on December 30, 2010 (TR 55) and a
supplemental hearing on April 20, 2011. (TR 38). At the time of the initial
hearing, Ms. Oliver was 33 years old, and she had an eleventh grade education.
(TR 58, 148). Ms. Oliver has special job training in business and as a certified
nursing assistant. (TR 58, 148). Her past relevant work is as a certified nursing
assistant, a poultry deboner, and a furniture assembler. (TR 47, 154).
When Ms. Oliver filed her applications, her name was Addie Michelle Baker. (TR 114, 122).
The ALJ and the parties state that Ms. Oliver filed both applications on August 11, 2009;
however, both the Application Summary for Disability Insurance Benefits and the Application
Summary for Supplemental Security Income from the Social Security Administration list the
application date as September 28, 2009. (TR 114, 122). This discrepancy is immaterial to the
On December 1, 2010, Ms. Oliver amended her applications to allege that her disability began
on July 17, 2009. (TR 138).
On June 14, 2011, the ALJ denied Ms. Oliver’s claim for a period of
disability and disability insurance benefits and her claim for supplemental security
The ALJ found that Ms. Oliver has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since July 17, 2009, the alleged onset date. (TR 14).
The ALJ determined that Ms. Oliver had the following severe impairments:
major depressive disorder, with psychotic features, currently in
remission; anxiety disorder, not otherwise specified; post-traumatic
stress disorder; crystal methamphetamine dependence by history; and
benzodiazepine and opiate abuse versus dependency by history.
(TR 15). The ALJ also concluded that Ms. Oliver has the following non-severe
impairments: obesity, lumbago, cervicalgia, and bronchitis. (TR 15, 298).
Nevertheless, the ALJ found that Ms. Oliver does not have an impairment or a
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals a listed impairment in
the Regulations. (TR 15).
The ALJ determined that Ms. Oliver has the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels. But, the ALJ
noted that Ms. Oliver “is restricted to occasional interaction with supervisors,
coworkers, and the general public.” (TR 16). The ALJ concluded that based upon
Ms. Oliver’s RFC, she could perform her past relevant work as a furniture
assembler and as a poultry deboner. (TR 24). The ALJ also noted that there were
other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that Ms. Oliver
can perform, including garment folder, packager, and assembler. (TR 25, 48, 49).
Accordingly, the ALJ determined that Ms. Oliver is not disabled as that term is
defined in the Social Security Act. (TR 25). On May 22, 2013, this became the
final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council refused to review
the ALJ’s decision. (TR 1). Having exhausted all administrative remedies, Ms.
Oliver filed this action for judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §405(g) and
In evaluating Ms. Oliver’s claim for benefits, the ALJ reviewed Ms. Oliver’s
history of mental illness and psychiatric treatment. In February 2003, Ms. Oliver
was hospitalized for depression and suicidal ideation. (TR 224). Ms. Oliver
reported feeling overwhelmed, and on the day of her admission, she had “crying
spells” and “felt suicidal.” (TR 224). Ms. Oliver was discharged after one night
because she was stabilized on medication and was no longer suicidal. (TR 224).
After this incident, Ms. Oliver sought treatment at Alabama Psychiatric Services
on seven occasions between February 2003 and July 2003. (TR 18, 226-234).
Doctors diagnosed Ms. Oliver with moderate depression. (TR 227).
Ms. Oliver did not seek psychiatric care again until 2008 when she began
treatment at Riverbend Center for Mental Health. In March 2008, Dr. Warren
Scott diagnosed Ms. Oliver with major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety
disorder, and intermittent explosive disorder. (TR 297). In April 2008, Ms. Oliver
was diagnosed with “amphetamine dependence with personality disorder and a
mood disorder not otherwise specified.”4 (TR 18, 271, 279, 280). The ALJ found
that although Ms. Oliver was placed in an intensive outpatient program for
chemical dependency and ordered to attend “AA/NA” meetings, the record lacked
evidence of her compliance with the program after April 2008. (TR 18, 268, 271,
273, 274, 275). The ALJ noted that Ms. Oliver was released from the program in
June 2008 when she obtained a job. (TR 18, 265).
While Ms. Oliver was working, her GAF scores during her 2008 follow-up
appointments at Riverbend were either 55 or 60.56 (TR 18, 265, 268, 272). Also,
the ALJ noted that while Ms. Oliver alleged that her disability onset date was July
17, 2009, the Riverbend records indicate that a week after her alleged onset date,
Ms. Oliver reported on July 22, 2009 that her mood swings were “completely
stable.” (TR 18, 261). The ALJ also noted that her GAF score had increased to 65
at this time. 7 (TR 18, 261).
Ms. Oliver reported to Dr. Scott that she was recently arrested for the manufacture and
possession of Meth and was awaiting trial. She smoked/inhaled 1 gram of Meth daily, she had
been using Meth for “x 8 years,” and she had a history of abusing Lortab and Xanax. Ms. Oliver
also met 6 of 7 criteria for chemical dependency. (TR 18, 276, 277).
A GAF of 51-60 is indicative of moderate symptoms or moderate difficulty in social,
occupational, or school functioning. (TR 18).
In an April 24, 2008 Psychiatric Evaluation, Dr. Scott reported a one-time GAF of 50. (TR
271). Also, at her initial assessment at Riverbend on March 14, 2008, her GAF score was 42.
(TR 279). Both scores predate Ms. Oliver’s employment in June 2008.
While reviewing Ms. Oliver’s most recent medical records from Riverbend,
the ALJ found that at each of her 2010 follow-up appointments, Ms. Oliver was
consistently assessed a GAF score of 65. 8 (TR 18, 399, 405, 406, 410, 414).
Specifically, the ALJ noted that at Ms. Oliver’s June 2010 appointment, she
reported that her “mood swings [were] completely stable,” and Ms. Oliver denied
“experiencing any problems.” (TR 19, 406). Also, the ALJ noted that at her
September 2010 appointment, Ms. Oliver reported that she was “doing fine” and
that she no longer needed medication. (TR 19, 404).9 Additionally, Ms. Oliver’s
2010 mental status reports state that she had no psychosis or suicidal ideation. (TR
19, 404, 409, 414, 418).
Ms. Oliver’s follow-up appointments were routinely three to four months
apart, which is “not indicative of the disabling symptoms or limitations alleged but
rather indicative of good control of symptoms and not of the frequency or severity
to require any more frequent care.” (TR 19, 399, 404, 406, 410, 414, 418).
A GAF of 65 indicates that the claimant has some mild symptoms or some difficulty in social,
occupational, or school functioning, but the claimant generally functions pretty well and has
some meaningful interpersonal relationships. (TR 18).
There were a total of five follow-up appointments in 2010 dated January 20, May 20, June 30,
September 23, and November 24. (TR 399, 404, 406, 410, 414, 418).
Specifically, Ms. Oliver reported that she felt like she no longer needed the medication
Geodon. The physician refused to discontinue Geodon, and Ms. Oliver also continued to take
Prozac, doxepin, hydroxyzine, and Inderal. (TR 404).
Ms. Oliver saw five doctors in connection with her impairments, and the
ALJ gave controlling weight to Dr. Scott’s opinion for the following reasons:
[H]e has an established treating relationship with [Ms. Oliver] and his
opinions are supported by objective, clinical evidence. They are
supported by [Ms. Oliver]’s reported daily activities, including her
being responsible for the care of her son without any particular
(TR 19). Dr. Scott found Ms. Oliver to have mild or moderate limitations and
never opined that Ms. Oliver was unable to work. (TR 20, 399, 400, 404, 409,
Ms. Oliver’s treating physician, Dr. Morrow, opined that Ms. Oliver is unable
to work due to her bipolar disorder. The ALJ gave no “special weight” to Dr.
Morrow’s opinion because Dr. Morrow has not treated Ms. Oliver for mental
illness, and he does he have any expertise in the field. (TR 20, 326). Additionally,
the ALJ found that Dr. Morrow’s opinions lack clinical or diagnostic findings,
evidence, or an explanation of the evidence relied upon in arriving at his opinions.
(TR 20, 326).
The ALJ also considered but gave little weight to the opinions of
consultative examiners Dr. Brian Thomas and Dr. Frank Gillis. (TR 19, 21). The
ALJ found Dr. Thomas’s opinion was inconsistent with Dr. Scott’s treating source
records from Riverbend. (TR 19). Although Dr. Thomas reported that Ms. Oliver
“has ‘poor’ functions in all areas . . . and even ‘poor’ prognosis,” the Riverbend
records consistently reported that Ms. Oliver had mild or moderate symptoms or
limitations with GAF scores of 60 and 65 in the months leading to Dr. Thomas’s
one-time examination of Ms. Oliver in October 2009. (TR 19, 294, 399, 400, 404,
409, 414, 418). Furthermore, the ALJ noted that
Dr. Thomas did not have the opportunity to review and consider [the
subsequent records going through 2010] which establish the
longitudinal record, are consistent with showing [Ms. Oliver]
routinely assessed with GAFs of 65, having good findings on mental
status examination, and even voicing good benefit from medication
and denying symptoms.
The ALJ found Dr. Thomas’s mental status report was vague and
incomplete because he had relied on Ms. Oliver’s subjective complaints and
information. (TR 20).
The ALJ also gave little weight to Dr. Gillis’s opinion because Dr. Gillis
“did not have the opportunity to review and consider new evidence received at the
hearing level which gives a more accurate longitudinal picture of [Ms. Oliver]’s
conditions.”10 (TR 21, 296).
The ALJ also reviewed a medical source statement provided by Dr. John
Goff, who examined Ms. Oliver at her attorney’s request. The ALJ commented
that Dr. Goff examined Ms. Oliver for the purpose of “generat[ing] evidence for
the current appeal,” not for treatment of symptoms. The ALJ remarked that he
The ALJ did give some weight to Dr. Gillis’s findings that Ms. Oliver had minimal functional
limitation. (TR 15).
could not ignore entirely “the context in which [Dr. Goff’s] opinion was
produced.” (TR 20). The ALJ also found that Dr. Goff’s report is inconsistent
with the controlling opinion of Dr. Scott, Ms. Oliver’s treating psychiatrist. (TR
21). Specifically, Dr. Goff diagnosed Ms. Oliver as psychotic with severe
impairment; however, Riverbend records indicate the opposite, which led the ALJ
to conclude that Dr. Goff did not review Ms. Oliver’s medical history “in any
detail.” (TR 21, 372, 399, 404, 406, 409, 414).
To be eligible for disability insurance benefits, a claimant must be disabled.
Gaskin, 533 Fed. Appx. at 930. “A claimant is disabled if he is unable to engage in
substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically-determinable impairment that
can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for
a continuous period of at least 12 months.” Id. (citing 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A)).
A claimant must prove that he is disabled. Id. (citing Ellison v. Barnhart,
355 F.3d 1272, 1276 (11th Cir. 2003)). To determine whether a claimant is
disabled, the Social Security Administration applies a five-step sequential analysis.
This process includes a determination of whether the claimant (1) is
unable to engage in substantial gainful activity; (2) has a severe and
medically-determinable physical or mental impairment; (3) has such
an impairment that meets or equals a Listing and meets the duration
requirements; (4) can perform his past relevant work, in the light of
his residual functional capacity; and (5) can make an adjustment to
other work, in the light of his residual functional capacity, age,
education, and work experience.
Id. (citation omitted).
“The claimant’s residual functional capacity is an
assessment, based upon all relevant evidence, of the claimant’s ability to do work
despite his impairments.” Id. (citing Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1440 (11th
Cir. 1997); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1545(a)(1)).
Ms. Oliver argues that she is entitled to relief from the ALJ’s decision
because the ALJ failed to consider her physical impairment of degenerative disc
disease and associated pain in assessing her ability to function, and in doing so,
disregarded evidence from Dr. Morrow, her treating physician. Additionally, Ms.
Oliver argues that, in assessing the severity of her mental impairments, the ALJ
failed to give proper weight to the opinions of her treating physician and two
independent examining experts. (Doc. 10, pp. 10, 12, 14). The Court finds that
these contentions are without merit.
FAILURE TO CONSIDER DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE AND
“An administrative law judge is under no ‘obligation to investigate a claim
not presented at the time of the application for benefits and not offered at the
hearing as a basis for disability.’” Street v. Barnhart, 133 Fed. Appx. 621, 627
(11th Cir. 2005) (quoting Pena v. Chater, 76 F.3d 906, 909 (8th Cir. 1996)).
Although the ALJ has the duty to develop a full and fair record, carefully weigh
the evidence, and give consideration to each claim that comes before it, “‘there is
no rigid requirement that the ALJ specifically refer to every piece of evidence in
[its] decision, so long as the ALJ’s decision’ enables us ‘to conclude that [the ALJ]
considered [the claimant’s] medical condition as a whole.’” Robinson v. Astrue,
365 Fed. Appx. 993, 995 (11th Cir. 2010) (quoting Dyer v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d
1206, 1211 (11th Cir. 2005)).
The ALJ did not err in failing to consider Ms. Oliver’s alleged degenerative
disc disease and its associated pain. Although Ms. Oliver stated in her Disability
Report that she was unable to work due to certain specified medical conditions,
including a bulging disk and headaches, she did not present evidence of these
ailments to the ALJ at the December 30, 2010 or the April 20, 2011 hearings. (TR
142, 40-53, 57-68). The ALJ developed a full and fair record and considered all
claims when he questioned Ms. Oliver’s counsel at both hearings. (TR 42-43, 64).
With the exception of uncontrolled bronchitis, Ms. Oliver stipulated that her
mental impairments were her only disabling impairments. (TR 43, 59). The ALJ
properly relied on the stipulation when he made his determination. See Robinson,
365 Fed. Appx. at 995 (holding that because claimant did not allege that she was
disabled due to chronic fatigue syndrome, the ALJ had no duty to consider her
chronic fatigue syndrome diagnosis). The ALJ was not required to address
evidence in the record, such as Dr. Morrow’s findings about Ms. Oliver’s
degenerative disc disease and associated pain, because Ms. Oliver did not argue
that this impairment was disabling.
Ms. Oliver argues that remand is appropriate when “an ALJ fails to consider
properly a claimant’s condition despite evidence in the record of the diagnosis.”
Vega v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 265 F.3d 1214, 1219 (11th Cir. 2001); Doc. 10, p. 11.
However, the rest of the quote on which Ms. Oliver relies states that “[t]his holding
applies to a claim of [chronic fatigue syndrome] when the claimant submits
evidence of a [chronic fatigue syndrome] diagnosis.” Id. Here, Ms. Oliver failed
to present evidence of her degenerative disc disease and the associated pain to the
ALJ and in fact stipulated that the ALJ should not consider it. (TR 15, 58-60, 6364).
Even so, the ALJ considered Ms. Oliver’s degenerative disc disease when he
acknowledged that Ms. Oliver had lumbago (lower back pain). (TR 15). Although
Ms. Oliver argues that the ALJ ignored her “severe pain and well-documented
degenerative disc disease,” the ALJ explicitly stated that he considered Ms.
Oliver’s physical symptoms. (TR 15). The ALJ reviewed Ms. Oliver’s back pain
when examining the opinion of Dr. Gillis, a consultative examiner, who found Ms.
Oliver to have “minimal functional limit[ations].” 11 (Doc. 10, p.11; TR 15). The
Dr. Gillis reported that Ms. Oliver was able to get on and off the table without difficulty; her
gait was normal without the use of an assistive device; she had normal station; she was able to
achieve 100% squat and rise; and she could heel/toe walk. (TR 298).
ALJ stated that “[c]onsidering the evidence of the record, including the testimony
absent of alleged disability due to physical symptoms or limitations, the
undersigned finds these [physical impairments] have not resulted in any significant
limitation of [Ms. Oliver]’s ability to do basic work activities, and are, therefore
‘non-severe impairments.’” (TR 15).
Additionally, “the mere existence of 
impairments does not reveal the extent to which they limit Ms. Oliver’s ability to
work. . . .” Moore v. Barnhart, 405 F.3d 1208, 1213 n.6 (11th Cir. 2005) (citing
McCruter v. Bowen, 791 F.2d 1544, 1547 (11th Cir. 1986)).
Morrow, Ms. Oliver’s treating physician, noted Ms. Oliver’s degenerative disc
disease on several occassions (TR 376, 377, 379, 380, 381, 383, 387, 422, 423,
425), the Court finds no evidence in the record that Dr. Morrow suggested she
could not work due to her degenerative disc disease. 12
Ms. Oliver claims that the ALJ failed to consider evidence from her treating
physician and the opinions of two consultative examiners in evaluating her mental
impairments. (Doc. 10, p. 12). However, Ms. Oliver does not explain what
evidence the ALJ purportedly ignored from her treating physician; she does not
To the contrary, Dr. Morrow provided a two sentence letter stating that Ms. Oliver is unable to
work due to bipolar disorder. (TR 326). As explained in greater detail below, the ALJ did not
err in failing to afford any special weight to this opinion.
name one of the consultative examiners; and she does not offer authority
supporting either argument. (Id.). The only physician’s opinion about which she
advances a substantive argument is that of Dr. Goff. Therefore, the Court only
reviews the ALJ’s treatment of Dr. Goff’s opinion concerning Ms. Oliver’s mental
impairments. See e.g., Outlaw v. Barnhart, 197 Fed. Appx. 825, 828 n. 3 (11th
Cir. 2006) (claimant waived argument that the ALJ erred in not crediting his
physical exertional impairments because the claimant “did not elaborate on this
claim or provide authority about this claim.”). 13
As a one-time examiner, Dr. Goff’s opinions are not entitled to deference.
See McSwain v. Bowen, 814 F.2d 617, 619 (11th Cir. 1987) (“The opinion of a
one-time examiner is not entitled to deference.”) (citing Gibson v. Heckler, 779
The Court assumes that Dr. Morrow is the treating physician to whom Ms. Oliver refers
because in January 2010, Dr. Morrow provided a statement that Ms. Oliver could not work due
to bipolar disorder. (TR 20, 326). Assuming for argument’s sake that Ms. Oliver has not waived
her argument related to Dr. Morrow’s opinion, which she has, the Court concludes that the ALJ
had good cause for providing no “special weight” to Dr. Morrow’s opinion. (TR 20). The ALJ
noted that Dr. Morrow has not treated Ms. Oliver for mental illness, and Dr. Morrow provided no
clinical or diagnostic findings or evidence to explain his conclusion that Ms. Oliver could not
work due to bipolar disorder. (TR 20). The Court finds no reference to bipolar disorder in Dr.
Morrow’s treatment notes. The ALJ noted that Dr. Morrow has no expertise in mental illness
and his conclusion “contrasts sharply with the treating psychiatrist [Dr. Scott] and mental health
center records.” (TR 20). Therefore, the ALJ did not err in rejecting Dr. Morrow’s opinion that
Ms. Oliver cannot work due to bipolar disorder. See e.g., Pettaway v. Astrue, 376 Fed. Appx.
889, 891 (11th Cir. 2010) (ALJ properly rejected a nonspecialist treating physician’s assessment
that was contradicted by the balance of the medical evidence); Lanier v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec.,
252 Fed. Appx. 311, 314 (11th Cir. 2007) (good cause existed to reject treating physician’s
conclusion that claimant could not work because the opinion was conclusory, and the physician
“neither specifically explained how [the claimant’s] impairments impacted  her ability to work
no provided objective medical evidence to support his findings”) Fries v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec.,
196 Fed. Appx. 827, 833 (11th Cir. 2006) (ALJ had good cause for giving minimal weight to
treating physician’s opinion because the opinion was inconsistent with other evidence of record).
F.2d 619, 623 (11th Cir. 1986)). Moreover, an ALJ “may reject the opinion of any
physician when the evidence supports a contrary conclusion.”
Barnhart, 166 Fed. Appx. 410, 418-19 (11th Cir. 2006).
Ms. Oliver argues that the ALJ “cannot simply discredit Dr. Goff’s wellformed opinions” simply because Dr. Goff examined Ms. Oliver at the request of
her attorney for purposes of generating evidence for Ms. Oliver’s appeal. (Doc.
10, pp. 12-13). She is correct; however, the ALJ did not discredit Dr. Goff’s
opinion. The ALJ stated that “this evidence is certainly legitimate and deserved
due consideration. . . .” (TR 20). The ALJ reviewed in detail Dr. Goff’s opinion,
and the ALJ stated the reasons why he afforded little weight to the opinion.
Dr. Goff noted that he believed Ms. Oliver “is psychotic and she is being
treated for psychosis, this represents a severe impairment.” (TR 21, 371). In
contrast, Ms. Oliver’s Riverbend treatment records indicate that Ms. Oliver
experienced no psychosis for over six months before she saw Dr. Goff. (TR 21,
399, 404, 406, 409, 414, 418).
Those records also show that Ms. Oliver’s
psychosis was listed as “in remission” or “history of.” Thus, according to the ALJ,
Dr. Goff based his finding of “severe impairment” on treatment that Ms. Oliver
was not receiving at the time. (TR 21, 399, 404, 406, 414, 418). The ALJ found
that Dr. Goff’s failure to reconcile discrepancies in his findings with Ms. Oliver’s
Riverbend records suggest Dr. Goff did not review Ms. Oliver’s treatment history
in detail. (TR 21). Therefore, the ALJ did not err in affording little weight to Dr.
Goff’s opinion. See Crawford v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1160 (11th
Cir. 2004) (ALJ properly discounted consulting psychologist’s opinion that the
claimant had marked psychological limitations because the consultative examiner
examined the claimant only once, and the ALJ’s findings were supported by the
opinion of a psychiatrist who examined the claimant on two occasions). Also,
because the ALJ gave little weight to Dr. Goff’s opinion because it was
inconsistent with the record as whole, not because Ms. Oliver’s attorney referred
her to Dr. Goff, there is no basis for remand. See Ferguson v. Astrue, 2013 WL
4588407, at *9 n.4 (N.D. Ala. Aug. 28, 2013) (holding that “the ALJ’s statement
regarding Dr. Rogers’s status as an attorney-referred physician is not a reversible
error because substantial evidence, in the form of inconsistency with the objective
medical evidence and Plaintiff’s daily activities, supports the ALJ’s determination
that Dr. Rogers’s opinion is entitled to little weight”). 14
The only other consultative examiner who provided evidence regarding Ms. Oliver’s mental
impairments is Dr. Thomas. (TR 293-295). The Court assumes he is the other unnamed
independent examining expert to whom Ms. Oliver refers. (See Doc. 10, p. 12). Even if Ms.
Oliver has not waived her arguments as they relate to Dr. Thomas’s opinion, which she has, the
Court would apply the same analysis and conclude that the ALJ properly discounted Dr.
Thomas’s findings. (TR 20). Like Dr. Goff, as a one-time examiner, Dr. Thomas’s opinion is
not entitled to deference, and the ALJ adequately explained why Dr. Thomas’s opinions were
inconsistent with Ms. Oliver’s treatment at Riverbend. (See TR 19-20).
For the reasons stated above, the Court concludes that the ALJ’s decision is
based upon substantial evidence and consistent with applicable legal standards.
Accordingly, the Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner’s decision. The Court will
enter a final judgment consistent with this opinion.
DONE and ORDERED this September 19, 2014.
MADELINE HUGHES HAIKALA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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