Garcia v. Colvin
MEMORANDUM OPINION regarding Complaint 1 filed by Angel D. Garcia. The Court finds the ALJ's determinations to be supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, the Court will affirm the Commissioner's decision. A separate order will be issued in accordance with this memorandum opinion. Ordered by Senior Judge Lyle E. Strom. (JAB)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
DISTRICT OF NEBRASKA
ANGEL D. GARCIA,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting
Commissioner of the Social
This matter is before the Court for review of a final
decision of the Acting Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (the “Commissioner”), wherein the Commissioner
denied the plaintiff, Angel D. Garcia’s (“plaintiff” or “Garcia”)
request for disability insurance benefits.
After review of the
parties’ briefs, the record, and the applicable law, the Court
finds that the Commissioner’s decision should be affirmed.
On October 12, 2012, plaintiff “filed an application
for disability benefits under the [Social Security Act].”
(Filing No. 1 at 2).
Plaintiff’s application was denied at the
initial and reconsideration levels by the Commissioner (Id.).
Plaintiff sought and was granted a hearing in front of an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) (Id.).
on June 17, 2014 (Id.).
The ALJ held a hearing
On September 18, 2014, the ALJ denied
Garcia’s application for benefits (Id.).
On January 12, 2016,
the Appeals Council denied plaintiff’s request for review of the
ALJ’s decision and stated that the ALJ’s “decision is the final
decision of the Commissioner . . . .”
(Filing No. 9-2 at 1).
On March 14, 2016, plaintiff filed the instant action
in accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) (Filing No. 1).
parties filed their briefs in accordance with the Court’s June
29, 2016, order setting the briefing schedule (Filing No. 14);
see also Filing Nos. 15-19.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
The Commissioner’s decision will be affirmed “if the
record contains substantial evidence to support it.”
Barnhart, 314 F.3d 964, 966 (8th Cir. 2003).
evidence is less than a preponderance, but enough that a
reasonable mind might accept it as adequate to support a
Haley v. Massanari, 258 F.3d 742, 747 (8th Cir. 2001)
(internal marks and cite omitted).
“In determining whether
existing evidence is substantial, [a court should] consider
evidence that detracts from the Commissioner’s decision as well
as evidence that supports it.”
Hutsell v. Massanari, 259 F.3d
707, 711 (8th Cir. 2001) (internal citation omitted).
record reveals substantial evidence supporting the Commissioner’s
decision, then that decision should not be reversed merely
because “substantial evidence exists in the record that would
have supported a contrary outcome.”
Hutsell, 259 F.3d at 711.
In other words, “[a court] may not reverse simply because [a
court] would have decided differently or because substantial
evidence supports a contrary outcome.”
Grable v. Colvin, 770
F.3d 1196, 1201 (8th Cir. 2014) (citing Davis v. Apfel, 239 F.3d
962, 966 (8th Cir. 2001)).
Finally, the claimant “bears the
burden of proving disability.”
Teague v. Astrue, 638 F.3d 611,
615 (8th Cir. 2011).
Plaintiff alleges two errors on the part of the ALJ
require the Court to “reverse the final agency decision and enter
judgment” or alternatively “reverse the ALJ’s decision and remand
th[e] matter for further proceedings.”
(Filing No. 17 at 25).
Plaintiff first argues that the ALJ failed to provide good
reasons supported by substantial evidence for not assigning the
opinions of Garcia’s treating physicians, Dr. Charging Thunder
and Dr. Kader, at least substantial weight (Id. at 18).
Court’s review of the record reveals that this argument lacks
The ALJ accorded “the opinions of Dr. Charging Thunder
(Filing No. 9-2 at 29).
The ALJ explained that
he did “not agree with Dr. Charging Thunder’s conclusory
statement that the claimant could not perform full time [sic]
work” because the “medical evidence support[ed] a finding that
[Garcia] could perform full time [sic] competitive work . . . .”
The ALJ likewise accorded Dr. Kader “partial weight.”
(Id. at 30).
The ALJ specifically noted “Dr. Kader’s opinions
are not consistent with the treatment notes in the record.”
Generally, “[a] treating physician’s opinion is given
controlling weight ‘if it is well-supported by medically
acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques and is
not inconsistent with the other substantial evidence.’”
Astrue, 500 F.3d 741, 744 (8th Cir. 2007) (quoting Reed v.
Barnhart, 399 F.3d 917, 920 (8th Cir. 2005)).
The United States
Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has specifically
determined that a treating physician’s opinion is not entitled to
special weight when “the treating physician evidence itself is
House, 500 F.3d at 744 (internal marks and cite
The Court is satisfied that the ALJ’s determinations
to assign Garcia’s treating physicians partial, as opposed to
controlling or substantial weight, are supported by the record’s
Plaintiff further alleges the ALJ failed to make an
individualized function-by-function assessment of plaintiff’s
residual function capacity (“RFC”) by not considering Garcia’s
need for frequent absences from work (Filing No. 17 at 22).
Although the heading in plaintiff’s brief states that this
argument is premised on Garcia’s seizures, the remaining
sentences, paragraphs, pages, and illustrative chart fail to
mention anything regarding seizures.
See id. at 22-25.
Notwithstanding the confusion contained in plaintiff’s brief, the
Court is satisfied that the ALJ’s determination regarding
Garcia’s RFC is supported by substantial evidence from the record
as a whole.
See Pearsall v. Massanari, 274 F.3d 1211, 1217 (8th
Cir. 2001) (“It is the claimant’s burden . . . to prove the
claimant’s RFC . . . [but] [i]t is the ALJ’s responsibility to
determine a claimant’s RFC based on all relevant evidence
. . . .).
Therefore, the Court finds the ALJ’s determinations to
be supported by substantial evidence.
Accordingly, the Court
will affirm the Commissioner’s decision.
A separate order will
be issued in accordance with this memorandum opinion.
DATED this 24th day of January, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
/s/ Lyle E. Strom
LYLE E. STROM, Senior Judge
United States District Court
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?