Strickland v. Social Security Administration, Commissioner
MEMORANDUM OPINION. Signed by Magistrate Judge John E Ott on 3/31/2016. (AVC)
2016 Mar-31 AM 11:25
U.S. DISTRICT COURT
N.D. OF ALABAMA
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA
EUGENIA WRIGHT STRICKLAND,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security,
Case No. 7:15-cv-00140-JEO
Plaintiff Eugenia Wright Stickland brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), seeking review of the final decision of the Acting Commissioner of
Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying her application for disability insurance
benefits. (Doc. 1).1 The case has been assigned to the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge pursuant to this court’s general order of reference. The parties
have consented to the jurisdiction of this court for disposition of the matter. (Doc.
16). See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), FED. R. CIV. P. 73(a). Upon review of the record
and the relevant law, the undersigned finds that the Commissioner’s decision is
due to be affirmed.
References herein to “Doc(s). __” are to the document numbers assigned by the Clerk of
the Court to the pleadings, motions, and other materials in the court file, as reflected on the
docket sheet in the court’s Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system.
I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On August 30, 2011, Strickland protectively filed an application for a period
of disability and disability insurance benefits, alleging disability beginning
December 23, 2010. (R. 13, 63).2 Following the denial of her application by the
state agency (R. 63, 68-73), Strickland requested a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). (R. 77). The hearing was held on April 19,
2013. Strickland, her counsel, and a vocational expert attended the hearing. (R.
28-61). The ALJ issued a decision on May 23, 2013, finding that Strickland had
not been disabled since her alleged onset date. (R. 13-27).
Strickland requested the Appeals Council review the ALJ’s decision. (R. 8).
The Appeals Council denied her request for review on December 11, 2014. (R. 16). On that date, the ALJ’s decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner. Strickland then filed this action for judicial review under 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). (Doc. 1).
II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
The court’s review of the Commissioner’s decision is narrowly
circumscribed. The function of the court is to determine whether the
References herein to “R.__” are to the page numbers of the administrative record, which
is located at Docs. 7-1 through 7-16.
Commissioner’s decision is supported by substantial evidence and whether proper
legal standards were applied. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 390, 91 S. Ct.
1420, 1422 (1971); Wilson v. Barnhart, 284 F.3d 1219, 1221 (11th Cir. 2002).
The court must “scrutinize the record as a whole to determine if the decision
reached is reasonable and supported by substantial evidence.” Bloodsworth v.
Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th Cir. 1983). Substantial evidence is “such
relevant evidence as a reasonable person would accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id. It is “more than a scintilla, but less than a preponderance.” Id.
The court must uphold factual findings that are supported by substantial
evidence. However, it reviews the ALJ’s legal conclusions de novo because no
presumption of validity attaches to the ALJ’s determination of the proper legal
standards to be applied. Davis v. Shalala, 985 F.2d 528, 531 (11th Cir. 1993). If
the court finds an error in the ALJ’s application of the law, or if the ALJ fails to
provide the court with sufficient reasoning for determining that the proper legal
analysis has been conducted, it must reverse the ALJ’s decision. See Cornelius v.
Sullivan, 936 F.2d 1143, 1145-46 (11th Cir. 1991).
III. STATUTORY AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
To qualify for disability benefits under the Social Security Act, a claimant
must show the inability 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). A physical or
mental impairment is “an impairment that results from anatomical, physiological,
or psychological abnormalities which are demonstrable by medically acceptable
clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(3).
Determination of disability under the Social Security Act requires a five
step analysis. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4) and 416.920(a)(4). Specifically, the
Commissioner must determine in sequence:
whether the claimant: (1) is unable to engage in substantial gainful
activity; (2) has a severe 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 light of his residual functional capacity; and (5) can make an
adjustment to other work, in light of his residual functional capacity,
age, education, and work experience.
Evans v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 551 F. App’x 521, 524 (11th Cir. 2014)3 (citing 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)). “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
Unpublished opinions of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals are not considered
binding precedent; however, they may be cited as persuasive authority. 11th Cir. R. 36-2.
determination of ‘not disabled.’” McDaniel v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 1026, 1030 (11th
Cir. 1986). “Once a finding is made that a claimant cannot return to prior work
the burden shifts to the [Commissioner] to show other work the claimant can do.”
Foote v. Chater, 67 F.3d 1553, 1559 (11th Cir. 1995) (citation omitted). The
Commissioner must further show that such work exists in the national economy in
significant numbers. Id.; Evans, 551 F. App’x at 524.
IV. FINDINGS OF THE ALJ
Strickland was 45 years old on her alleged onset date and 47 years old at the
time of her hearing before the ALJ. (R. 15, 31). She is a high school graduate
with one year of college education and a degree in cosmetology. (R. 15, 33, 168).
She has past relevant work experience as a hair stylist. (R. 21, 55, 168).
In her disability report, Strickland alleges that she has been disabled and
unable to work since December 23, 2010, due to tethered cord syndrome,
transverse myelitis, gastrointestinal (“GI”) mastocytosis, asthma, anaphylactic
allergic reactions (hives), and depression. (R. 167). She testified at her hearing
that she was prevented from performing her job because she “started to have
symptoms of flushing, shortness of breath, fatigue, [and] upset stomach.” (R. 33).
The ALJ found that Strickland has the following severe impairments:
tethered cord syndrome; degenerative disk disease of the cervical spine; left carpal
tunnel syndrome; food colitis/GI mastocytosis related to a food allergy; contact
dermatitis; somatoform disorder; adjustment disorder; and histrionic personalty
disorder. (R. 15). He concluded, however, that Strickland’s impairments, alone
and in combination, did not meet or medically equal the severity of one of the
listed impairments in the Listings.4 (R. 18-19).
The ALJ then found that Strickland has the residual functional capacity5
(“RFC”) to perform light work, subject to the following limitations: she is
precluded from climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and from exposure to
unprotected heights; she can climbs ramps and stairs and balance, stoop, kneel,
crouch, and crawl on no more than an occasional basis; she can handle and finger
with the left hand frequently; she should have no more than occasional exposure to
extreme heat, cold, and humidity and to irritants such as odors, fumes, and gases;
she can understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions in a low-stress
setting; and she can sustain occasional interaction with the public, coworkers, and
supervisors. (R. 19).
Based on the testimony of the vocational expert, the ALJ found that
Strickland could not perform her past relevant work as a hair stylist. (R. 21). He
The Listings are located at 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1.
Residual functional capacity is the most a claimant can do despite her impairment(s).
See 20 C.F.R. §404.1545(a)(1).
further found, however, that there are other jobs in the national economy that
Strickland is capable of performing, including mail clerk, garment sorter, and
order caller. (R. 22). The ALJ thus concluded that Strickland was not disabled
from December 23, 2010, through the date of the decision. (R. 22).
Strickland argues that the Commissioner’s decision should be reversed or
remanded for three reasons, all related to her somatoform disorder.6 Strickland
was diagnosed with somatoform disorder by Dr. John Goff, a Clinical
Neuropsychologist who evaluated her in August 2012. (R. 851-60). Strickland
argues that (1) based on Dr. Goff’s evaluation, she meets the requirements of
Listing 12.07, the listing for somatoform disorders; (2) the ALJ improperly
disregarded Dr. Goff’s opinion; and (3) the ALJ did not utilize the Psychiatric
Review Technique (“PRT”) in analyzing how her somatoform disorder impacts
her functional limitations. Because these arguments are all inter-related, the court
will address them together.
Dr. Goff explained his somatoform diagnosis as follows:
Somatoform disorders are “any of a group of psychological disorders (as body
dysmorphic disorder or hypochondriasis) marked by physical complaints for which no organic or
physiological explanation is found and for which there is a strong likelihood that psychological
factors are involved.” Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary,
www.merriam-webster.com/medical/somatoform%20disorder (last visited March 29, 2016).
[Strickland] currently exhibits a lot of symptoms of a systemic illness
which she has attributed to mastocytosis. Apparently she underwent
a series of gastrointestinal studies. She says that the doctor who did
the original studies said they were normal. Apparently somebody else
looked at the results and decided that she had mastocytosis of the
gastrointestinal tract and that has been her impression ever since. ...
[S]he has this plethora of somatic symptoms which she refers to the
This lady has a somatoform disorder. There are some conversion
characteristics present. We have one of these situations where there
apparently is some physical abnormality present and it is just that the
physical abnormality does not seem to explain the breadth or severity
of the symptoms she is displaying to her physicians or to anyone else
for that matter. Hence, it might be assumed that she is conjuring up
symptoms or intentionally presenting symptoms that are not real but
that certainly is not the case. This lady’s experience of symptoms is
quite genuine and there are no indications from the clinical evaluation
or the psychometrics to suggest that she is engaging in any sort of
malingering or dissimulation here. ...
Regardless of the etiology of the symptomatology it is quite
debilitating to her. She breaks out in hives. She has gastrointestinal
or allergic reactions. We also have a broad range of other issues
including irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches, some visual
disturbances, these paresthesias. Hence, she exhibits physical
symptomatology which might have a psychological basis across
several bodily systems. Again this qualifies her for the somatoform
(R. 855-56). Dr. Goff also completed a Medical Source Statement (Mental) in
which he opined, in part, that Strickland had a marked degree of restriction of her
daily activities; a marked degree of impairment in her ability to understand,
remember, and carry out both simple and complex instructions; an extreme degree
of impairment in her ability to maintain attention and concentration for extended
periods; an extreme degree of impairment in her ability to perform activities
within a schedule, maintain regular attendance, and be punctual within customary
tolerances; and an extreme impairment in her 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 of rest periods. (R. 859).
Based on Dr. Goff’s diagnosis of somatoform disorder and the functional
limitations noted in his Medical Source Statement, Strickland argues that she
meets the requirements of Listing 12.07, the listing for somatoform disorder. To
meet Listing 12.07, an individual’s somatoform disorder must satisfy the
requirements in both subsection A and subsection B of the listing. See 20 C.F.R.
pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1, listing 12.07. Subsection A is met when the disorder is
“medically documented by evidence” of one of a number of different conditions,
including an “[u]nrealisitc interpretation of physical signs or sensations associated
with the preoccupation or belief that one has a serious injury.” Id., listing
12.07(A)(3). Subsection B is met when the condition in subsection A results in at
least two of the following: “1. Marked restriction of activities of daily living; or 2.
Marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; or 3. Marked difficulties in
maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace; or 4. Repeated episodes of
decompensation, each of extended duration.” Id., listing 12.07(B).
Here, the ALJ accepted Dr. Goff’s diagnosis of somatoform disorder, noting
that the diagnosis was “supported by [Strickland’s] continued seeking of medical
treatment without clear diagnosable issues” and finding that the disorder was a
severe impairment. (R. 15, 20). The court agrees with Strickland that if the ALJ
had also accepted Dr. Goff’s assessment of her functional limitations, she would
satisfy the requirements of Listing 12.07. Dr. Goff’s observations that Strickland
has a “plethora of somatic symptoms which she refers to [her] mastocytosis” and
that she exhibits “physical symptomatology which might have a psychological
basis across several bodily systems” are evidence of an “[u]nrealistic interpretation
of physical signs or sensations associated with the preoccupation or belief” that
she has a serious disease or injury, which satisfies subsection A of the listing. His
opinions that Strickland has a “marked” degree of restriction of her daily activities
and an “extreme” degree of impairment in her ability to maintain attention and
concentration and to perform at a consistent pace would, if accepted, satisfy
subsection B of the listing.
The ALJ, however, gave “little weight” to Dr. Goff’s opinion, noting that
“[w]hile his diagnoses are reasonable, the limitations he reported are not supported
by [Strickland’s] treatment records.” (R. 21). He observed that Dr. Goff’s opinion
is “inconsistent with the mental status examinations conducted throughout the
medical evidence of record.” (Id.) In addition, the ALJ expressly found that
Strickland’s impairments do not meet the requirements of Listing 12.07 because
she “does not have any marked functional limitations.” (R. 18).
Strickland contends that the ALJ failed to give adequate weight to Dr.
Goff’s opinion. She argues that the ALJ “falsely asserted that Dr. Goff’s findings
were not supported by [her] treatment records and were inconsistent with mental
status examinations conducted throughout” the medical record. (Doc. 9 at 15).
She also argues that the ALJ improperly discounted Dr. Goff’s opinion in favor of
the opinion of a non-examining physician, Dr. Samuel Williams, a state agency
physician who evaluated her mental impairments using the PRT. (Doc. 9 at 1314).
In determining whether a claimant is disabled, an ALJ considers the
medical opinions in the record together with the other relevant evidence. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1527(c). The ALJ evaluates “every medical opinion” regardless of
its source. Id. § 404.1527(c). In deciding the weight to give to a medical opinion,
the ALJ considers (1) whether the opinion’s source examined the claimant; (2)
whether the source has a treating relationship with the claimant; (3) the relevant
evidence supporting the opinion, particularly medical signs and laboratory
findings; (4) the extent to which the opinion is consistent with the record as a
whole; and (5) whether the opinion is related to the source’s specialization. Id.
The ALJ need not explicitly mention each of these factors in his written decision.
Lawton v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 431 F. App’x 830, 833 (11th Cir. 2011).
Weighing the evidence is the ALJ’s duty, and the court may not “decide the facts
anew, reweigh the evidence, or substitute [its] judgment for that of the
Commissioner.” Mitchell v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 771 F.3d 780, 782 (11th Cir.
2014) (citing Winchel v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 631 F.3d 1176, 1178 (11th Cir.
After carefully reviewing the record, the court is satisfied that substantial
evidence supports the ALJ’s decision to give Dr. Goff’s opinions on Strickland’s
functional limitations little weight. The court first notes that Dr. Goff examined
Strickland only one time and did not have a treating relationship with her.
Therefore, the ALJ was not required to give his opinions great weight. See
Crawford v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1160 (11th Cir. 2004) (affirming
rejection of a psychologist’s opinion that the claimant had “marked” psychological
limitations and noting that “because [the psychologist] examined [the claimant] on
only one occasion, her opinion was not entitled to great weight”).
Substantively, the court observes that there are some inconsistencies
between Dr. Goff’s psychological evaluation of Strickland and his opinions on her
functional limitations. For instance, Dr. Goff stated in his written evaluation that
during his examination of Strickland she was “able to understand, follow and carry
out simple and complex instructions” (R. 856), yet in his Medical Source
Statement he opined that Strickland had a “marked” degree of impairment in her
ability to understand and carry out simple and complex instructions. (R. 859). He
also opined that Strickland had a “marked” impairment in her ability to remember
instructions and repetitive tasks (R. 859), but in his evaluation he noted that
Strickland’s logical memory for verbal material was fair, that her immediate
memory for digits was good, and that she was able to provide personal and current
information and to name the president, the previous president, the governor, and
the sheriff. (R. 854). These inconsistencies undermine Dr. Goff’s opinions on
Strickland’s functional limitations and lend support to the ALJ’s decision to give
his opinions little weight.
The court also finds that substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s
determination that Dr. Goff’s opinions regarding Strickland’s functional
limitations are inconsistent with the mental status examinations in the medical
record. While Strickland is correct that the mental status examinations in the
record were conducted when she was seeking treatment for her physical symptoms
(and not as part of an independent evaluation of her mental health), they
nonetheless reflect that Strickland was generally alert and oriented during her
doctor visits and that her mood and affect were normal. Dr. Thomas Emig, a
physician at Alabama Neurology and Sleep Medicine, examined Strickland in
December 2010 and February 2011, and both times observed that her mood and
affect were normal, that her speech was normal, that her cognitive function was
normal, and that her comprehension and concentration were within normal limits.
(R. 523-28). When Strickland went to the Cleveland Clinic in April 2011 for a
second opinion on her diagnosis of GI mastocytosis, it was noted that there was
“suggestion of cognitive or memory disturbance during the examination” but that
otherwise she was “oriented to place and situation” and “alert, cooperative, in no
distress, and able to provide a coherent history.” (R. 590, 617). Later that same
month, Dr. James Robinson, a physician at West Alabama Family Clinic who
evaluated Strickland’s complaint of upper and lower back pain, observed that
Strickland’s judgment and insight were intact, that her mood was normal, and that
her affect was appropriate. (R. 913). In July 2011, when Strickland was examined
at DCH Regional Medical Center after being admitted with complaints of chest
pain and overall body numbness, it was noted that she was alert and oriented and
that her psychiatric makeup was “appropriate for [her] age.” (R. 749, 764). And
during an examination in November 2012, Dr. Robinson observed that
Strickland’s judgment and insight were intact, that she had no abnormal thought
processes, and that while her mood was depressed, her affect was appropriate. (R.
919). Notably, none of these physicians ever observed any marked or extreme
mental limitations in Strickland’s makeup, much less any mental imitations that
would prevent her from working.
Moreover, as Dr. Goff himself points out in his written response to the
ALJ’s decision, “The common feature of the somatoform disorders is the presence
of physical symptoms that suggest a general medical condition (hence, the term
somatoform) and are not fully explained by a general medical condition, by the
direct effects of a substance or by another medical disorder (e.g., panic disorder).”
(R. 944 (quoting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th text rev. p. 45 (2000))
(emphasis supplied). In his evaluation of Strickland, Dr. Goff determined that
Strickland has a somatoform disorder because she exhibits “physical
symptomatology which might have a psychological basis across bodily systems.”
(R. 856) (emphasis supplied). He stated that, regardless of their etiology,
Strickland’s symptoms are “quite debilitating to her,” noting that she breaks out in
hives and has gastrointestinal or allergic reactions, irritable bowel syndrome,
migraine headaches, and some visual disturbances. (Id.)
The salient issue, therefore, is not whether Strickland has a somatoform
disorder–again, the ALJ accepted Dr. Goff’s somatoform diagnosis–but rather
whether the physical symptoms manifested by the disorder were so “debilitating”
as to render her disabled and unable to work. As the Eleventh Circuit has noted,
“the mere existence of ... impairments does not reveal the extent to which they
limit [a claimant’s] ability to work or undermine the ALJ’s determination in that
regard.” Moore v. Barnhart, 405 F.3d 1208, 1213 n.6 (11th Cir. 2005). Here, the
ALJ determined that Strickland’s medically determinable impairments could
reasonably be expected to cause some of her symptoms, but he concluded that
Strickland’s allegations regarding the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of
her symptoms were not entirely credible and that she could perform light work
with the restrictions he assessed in his RFC finding.
Substantial evidence supports the ALJ’s finding. As previously noted,
Strickland testified at her hearing that her symptoms of “flushing, shortness of
breath, fatigue, [and] upset stomach” prevented her from working. (R. 33).
However, Dr. James Bonner, an allergist who treated Strickland on multiple
occasions in 2011 and 2012, repeatedly observed that Strickland was in “no major
distress” despite her complaints. (R. 814, 817, 819, 821). Indeed, in December
2011 she reported to Dr. Bonner that she was “somewhat better,” that she had
experienced nausea and vomiting only “on occasion,” and that “overall” she felt
that she had improved even though her flushing continued. (R. 823). When she
saw Dr. Bonner six months later in May 2012, she reported that she continued to
have problems with flushing but otherwise was doing well with no complaints.
(R. 814). Likewise, Dr. Robinson’s progress notes from his examinations of
Strickland in 2011, 2012, and 2013 reflect that Strickland complained of chest
pain and shortness of breath in January 2011, but that she denied any chest pain or
shortness of breath when he examined her in April 2011, November 2012, and
March 2013. (R. 909, 912, 918, 922). Dr. Robinson’s notes also reflect that
Strickland consistently denied any nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea except in March
2013, when she reported a “1 day history” of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. (Id.)
Finally, Kimberly Jones, a state agency medical consultant who performed a
physical RFC assessment of Strickland in November 2011, determined that
Strickland’s symptom allegations were only partially credible, as the severity she
alleged was not consistent with the objective medical evidence. (R. 796). All of
this evidence provides substantial support for the ALJ’s determination that
Strickland’s physical symptoms were not as debilitating as she alleged and that she
was capable of performing light work within the confines of his RFC finding.
With respect to Strickland’s assertion that the ALJ gave improper weight to
the opinion of Dr. Williams, the state agency physician who evaluated her mental
impairments, the court disagrees. Dr. Williams reviewed the medical evidence in
November 2011 and diagnosed Strickland with attention deficit disorder,
depression, and anxiety.7 (R. 800, 802, 804). He opined, however, that these
conditions were not severe and that Strickland had only a “mild” functional
limitation in her activities of daily living and only “mild” limitations in
maintaining social functioning and in maintaining concentration, persistence, or
pace. (R. 809). The ALJ gave great weight to Dr. Williams’s opinion (R. 20-21),
which is consistent with and supported by Strickland’s treatment records as
Strickland argues that “by according ‘substantial weight’ to the opinion of
Dr. Williams (non-examining, consulting physician) the ALJ failed to carry his
burden of proving by substantial evidence that Strickland was capable of
performing substantial gainful employment.” (Doc. 9 at 14). She cites Broughton
v. Heckler, 776 F.2d 960, 962 (11th Cir. 1995), for the general rule that “reports of
physicians who do not examine the claimant, taken alone, do not constitute
The ALJ determined that Strickland’s attention deficit disorder, depression, and anxiety
are not severe impairments (R. 17), and Strickland does not challenge this determination. (Doc.
14 at 5 n.1).
substantial evidence on which to base an administrative decision.” The ALJ,
however, did not base his decision on the opinion of Dr. Williams alone, but rather
on his opinion in conjunction with Strickland’s treatment records. Moreover, as
Dr. Williams’s opinion is consistent with Strickland’s treatment records as a
whole, it was appropriate for the ALJ to afford the opinion great weight.8 See 29
C.F.R. § 404.1527(c)(4) (“Generally, the more consistent an opinion is with the
record as a whole, the more weight we will give to that opinion.”).
Lastly, Strickland’s assertion that the ALJ failed to utilize the PRT in
analyzing how her somatoform disorder would impact her functional limitations is
simply unfounded. Under the PRT, an ALJ determines whether a mental
impairment is severe, and whether it meets or medically equals one of the listed
impairments, by rating how the impairment limits the claimant in “four broad
functional areas”: activities of daily living; social functioning; concentration,
persistence, or pace; and episodes of decompensation. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520a(c)(3). Here, the ALJ expressly analyzed Strickland’s mental
impairments, including her somatoform disorder, under the PRT. He found:
The court also notes that the ALJ did not “discount” Dr. Goff’s opinion in favor of Dr.
Williams’s opinion, as Strickland asserts in her brief. As noted, the ALJ afforded great weight to
Dr. Williams’s opinion only with respect to his diagnoses of attention deficit disorder,
depression, and anxiety. (R. 20-21). The ALJ did not rely on the opinion to discount Dr. Goff’s
diagnosis of somatoform disorder; to the contrary, the ALJ embraced Dr. Goff’s diagnosis.
In activities of daily living, [Strickland] has moderate restriction. In
social functioning, [Strickland] has moderate difficulties. With
regard to concentration, persistence, or pace, [Strickland] has
moderate difficulties. As for episodes of decompensation,
[Strickland] has experienced no episodes of decompensation, which
have been of extended duration.
(R. 18). In addition, the ALJ separately found that because Strickland “does not
have any marked functional limitations,” the requirements of Listing 12.07, the
listing for somatoform disorder, were not met. (Id.) Contrary to Strickland’s
assertion, the ALJ did not fail to use the PRT in assessing her somatoform
For the reasons set forth above, the Commissioner’s decision is due to be
affirmed. An appropriate order will be entered separately.
DONE, this the 31st day of March, 2016.
JOHN E. OTT
Chief United States Magistrate Judge
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