JOHNSON v. COLVIN
FINAL JUDGMENT affirming the decision of the Commissioner. Entered by Magistrate Judge William G. Hussmann, Jr., on 3/7/2014. (Attachments: # 1 Findings)(NRN)
I'm going to find that the plaintiff
has raised two errors on appeal.
The first is a question of whether the ALJ has
performed an improper credibility finding in this case, and
I'm going to find that I have reviewed the ALJ's decision at
pages 32 through 35 of the record.
In this case the ALJ did
extensively discuss the entire course of medical treatment.
He discussed the consultative examinations.
He did come to
the conclusion, the ALJ in this case, that the plaintiff was
performing some work functions and that while that is not
dispositive of being able to work, it is a relevant factor that
he might consider with respect to credibility issues only, not
necessarily RFC issues.
There is perhaps one misquoting with respect to the
issue of whether the plaintiff himself made the statement that
he wanted to be able to work but was required to take care of
While that may be or may not be a misquote of the
plaintiff himself, given the medical record that it came from,
that one misstatement does not affect overall the credibility
assessment where the ALJ has looked at the extensive medical
record and discussed it and considered all the medical
treatment in that regard.
I'm not able to find that the
determination was patently wrong in this case with respect to
With respect to Listing 1.04A, I'm going to find that
the ALJ's decision at page nine that the plaintiff did not meet
the listing is technically correct.
The evidence before the
Court shows that the nerve root compression was in fact
relieved by surgery, that the treatment after the nerve root
compression, that the only evidence thereafter was that there
was a mild irritation of the nerve root.
And there has not
been a showing of meeting nerve root compression for a
significant-enough period of time to meet the listing of 1.04A
technically, and there is no reversible error in that regard.
With respect to the issue of whether the plaintiff's
conditions were the equivalent of Listing 1.04, I find under
the case law cited by the defendants in their brief, medical
equivalence requires a medical opinion.
In this case I'm
going to conclude that Dr. Sharifi's records do not constitute
the necessary medical opinion of equivalency in this
I'm going to conclude that the ALJ was
entitled to rely on the state agency reviewers, who did not
find medical equivalency.
For those reasons I would have to
affirm the decision of the ALJ.
Tom Newlin, I think you have done a very good job
of articulating where the issue is that would be on appeal in
this case, and that is specifically whether the ALJ should have
found equivalency by review of Dr. Sharifi's records.
think that will be an issue that is clearly highlighted on
appeal in this case.
But in this case I believe that where the plaintiff
was represented by counsel, it was not incumbent on the ALJ
to, on his or her own volition, order an equivalency opinion
and that I would not be able to find error in failing to ask
for that opinion by the ALJ under a circumstance where a
claimant is represented by counsel.
It would be a more difficult opinion if the claimant
had not been represented by counsel.
The ALJ's duty to
develop the record under that circumstance might have required
the ALJ to seek equivalency under that circumstance.
is again a very close call, and I do recognize that the Seventh
Circuit on appeal may clearly disagree with me, may clearly
find that Dr. Sharifi's records are sufficient to amount to
an equivalency circumstance or opinion.
But if they do, there would be a situation in which
Dr. Sharifi's opinion was that it was medically equivalent.
The state agency reviewers were also admissible and
substantial evidence that equivalency was not met, and I
believe that for me to find that it should be remanded for that
would require me to reweigh the evidence and find that
Dr. Sharifi was entitled to more weight than the state agency
physicians, and I don't believe that I'm entitled to reweigh
So those are my reasons why I feel I need to affirm
at this point in time.
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?