Davis v. Colvin
MEMORANDUM ORDER re 18 REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION is ADOPTED; 11 MOTION for Summary Judgment is DENIED; 15 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment is GRANTED, ***Civil Case Terminated. Signed by Judge Leonard P. Stark on 9/15/17. (ntl)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE
RICHARD WAYNE DAVIS, JR.,
C.A. No. 16-625-LPS-MPT
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, 1
Acting Commissioner of Social Security,
WHEREAS, Chief Magistrate Judge Thynge issued a 29-page Report and
Recommendation (the "Report") (D.1. 18), dated June 30, 2017, recommending that the Court
(i) deny Plaintiff Richard Wayne Davis, Jr.'s ("Plaintiff' or "Davis") motion for summary
judgment (D.I. 11) and (ii) grant Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill's ("Defendant") cross-motion for
summary judgment (D.I. 15);
WHEREAS, on July 17, 2017, Plaintiff objected to the Report ("Objections") (D.I. 19);
WHEREAS, on August 2, 2017,Defendant responded to Plaintiffs Objections
("Response") (D.I. 20);
WHEREAS, the Court has considered the parties' objections and responses de novo, see
Brown v. Astrue, 649 F.3d 193, 195 (3d Cir. 2011); 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l); Fed. R. Civ. P.
NOW THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that:
Nancy A. Berryhill is now the Acting Commissioner of Social Security. Pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(d), Nancy A. Berryhill is substituted for former
Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin as defendant in this suit.
Plaintiffs Objections (D.I. 19) are OVERRULED, Judge Thynge's Report (D.I.
18) is ADOPTED, Plaintiffs Motion for Summary Judgment (D.I. 11) is DENIED, and
Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (D.I. 15) is GRANTED.
Davis objects to the Report's. recommendation that the Court conclude the ALJ
did not err.in affording little weight to the opinion of Davis' treating physician, Dr. August, while
affording significant weight to the opinions of state agency psychologists. It is not for the Court
to re-weigh the medical opinions in the record. See Gonzalez v. Astrue, 53 7 F. Supp. 2d 644, 659
(D. Del. 2008). Rather, the Court must determine whether substantial evidence exists to support
. the ALJ' s weighing of those opinions. See id. As the Report explained, the ALJ considered all
· relevant factors in determining how much weight to afford Dr. August's opinion and cited
specific reasons for his decision, including inconsistences between Dr. August's opinion and
"detailed, contemporaneous" treatment notes from the VA and Davis' medical record as a whole.
(D.I. 6 ("Tr.") at 197) The ALJ similarly explained that he afforded the state agency
psychologists' opinions significant weight because they were consistent with "VA mental health
outpatient clinic notes." (Tr. at 198) Therefore, the ALJ's determination to afford little weight to
Dr. August's opinion and significant weight to the opinions of the state agency psychologists is ·
supported by substantial evidence.
Davis also objects to the Report's recommendation that the Court conclude the.
ALJ did not fail to adequately consider Plaintiffs VA disability determination. While VA
disability determinations are "entitled to substantial weight," Kane v. Heckler, 776 F.2d 1130,
1134 (3d Cir. 1985), a disability determination made by another governmental agency is not
binding on the Commissioner, 20 CPR§
The ALJ considered the VA's disability
rating and adequately explained his reasons for assigning it little weight, including that the VA' s
determination is based on a different statutory scheme and do not cite the evidence upon which
. they are based. (Tr. at 198) Therefore, the Court agrees with the Report that the ALJ did not err
in failing to adequately consider Davis' VA disability rating.
Finally, Davis objects to the Report's recommendation that the Court conclude the
ALJ did not err in finding Davis' hearing testimony to be not entirely credible. When evaluating
a claimant's credibility, the ALJ must consider the entire case record and give specific reasons
for the weight afforded to the individual's statements. SSR 96 .. 7p (S.S.A.), 1996 WL 374186, at
*4. "Overturning an ALJ's credibility determination is an 'extraordinary step', as credibility
determinations are entitled to a great deal of deference." Metz v. Fed. Mine Safety and Health
Review Comm 'n, 532 F. App'x 309, 312 (3d Cir. 2013). As the Report stated, the ALJ explained
·at length why he found Davis to be not entirely credible, citing numerous inconsistencies
bet:ween the limitations Davis claimed to experience and the activities Plaintiff claimed to enjoy
and do regularly, as well as the medical tests and treatment.notes of Davis' doctors.I Therefore,
the Court agrees with the Report's recommendation that substantial evidence exist~ to support
the ALJ's credibility assessment of Davis' testimony.
September 15, 201 7
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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