Andrews v. US Social Security Administration, Acting Commissioner
///ORDER denying 9 Motion to Reverse Decision of Commissioner; granting 15 Motion to Affirm Decision of Commissioner. So Ordered by Judge Paul J. Barbadoro.(vln)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
Civil No. 16-cv-270-PB
Opinion No. 2017 DNH 115
US Social Security Administration,
Acting Commissioner, Nancy A. Berryhill
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Stephanie Andrews challenges the Social Security
Administration’s decision to deny her claim for Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”).
She argues that the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) erred by ignoring a medical opinion and using lay
knowledge to assess her residual functional capacity (“RFC”).
In accordance with Local Rule 9.1, the parties have
submitted a joint statement of stipulated facts (Doc. No. 14).
Because that joint statement is part of the court’s record, I do
not recount it here.
I discuss facts relevant to the
disposition of this matter as necessary below.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
I am authorized to review the pleadings submitted by the
parties and the administrative record and enter a judgment
affirming, modifying, or reversing the “final decision” of the
See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
That review is limited,
however, “to determining whether the ALJ used the proper legal
standards and found facts [based] upon the proper quantum of
Ward v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., 211 F.3d 652, 655 (1st
I defer to the ALJ’s findings of fact, so long as
those findings are supported by substantial evidence.
Substantial evidence exists “if a reasonable mind, reviewing the
evidence in the record as a whole, could accept it as adequate
to support his conclusion.”
Irlanda Ortiz v. Sec’y of Health &
Human Servs., 955 F.2d 765, 769 (1st Cir. 1991) (per curiam)
(quoting Rodriguez v. Sec’y of Health & Human Servs., 647 F.2d
218, 222 (1st Cir. 1981)).
If the substantial evidence standard is met, the ALJ’s
factual findings are conclusive, even where the record “arguably
could support a different conclusion.”
Id. at 770.
are not conclusive, however, if the ALJ derived his findings by
“ignoring evidence, misapplying the law, or judging matters
entrusted to experts.”
Cir. 1999) (per curiam).
Nguyen v. Chater, 172 F.3d 31, 35 (1st
The ALJ is responsible for determining
issues of credibility and for drawing inferences from evidence
in the record.
Irlanda Ortiz, 955 F.2d at 769.
It is the role
of the ALJ, not the court, to resolve conflicts in the evidence.
Andrews is a thirty-one-year-old woman with negligible work
history who alleges that she has been disabled since March 30,
In April 2013, she filed an application for SSI.
her claim was denied, she requested a hearing before an ALJ.
The hearing was held in October 2014, and in March 2015 the ALJ
issued a written decision concluding that Andrews was not
The ALJ evaluated her claim under the five-step sequential
process for determining whether a claimant is disabled.
105–16; see 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a).
At step one, the ALJ found
that Andrews had not worked since she applied for benefits.
step two, the ALJ found that Andrews had severe impairments of
depression and panic disorder with agoraphobia, but declined to
find any severe physical impairments.
At step three, the ALJ
found that Andrews’ impairments did not qualify for any listed
The ALJ then assessed Andrews’ RFC, finding that
she could physically perform “a full range of work at all
exertional levels” but had a limited capacity for social
interaction and handling complicated or unexpected work.
Recognizing at step four that she had no past relevant work, the
ALJ found that despite her limitations Andrews could perform a
significant number of jobs in the economy.
concluded that Andrews was not disabled.
Accordingly, the ALJ
The Appeals Council
declined to review the ALJ’s decision, which is now ripe for
review in this court.
Andrews argues that the ALJ ignored the opinion of an
examining psychologist and used lay knowledge to arrive at an
RFC unsupported by any opinion in the record.
Commissioner responds that the ALJ plainly considered the
psychologist’s opinion and did not improperly use lay knowledge
to craft the RFC.
I begin by explaining that the ALJ did not ignore the
I then discuss the opinions and
evidence supporting the mental RFC assessment before explaining
why the physical RFC assessment does not present a reversible
Dr. Griffin’s Opinion
Andrews argues that the ALJ ignored an opinion by examining
psychologist Stefanie Griffin, Ph.D.
For the following reasons,
“Ordinarily . . . an ALJ’s failure to consider a medical
opinion in the record at all is legal error that requires
Grenier v. Colvin, 2015 DNH 133, 6.
evaluate all medical opinions.
(2015) (amended 2017).
An ALJ must also
See 20 C.F.R. § 416.927(c)
Accordingly, an ALJ “must explain in the
decision the weight given to” opinions by non-examining sources.
§ 416.927(e)(2)(ii); see also SSR 96-8p, 1996 WL 374184, at *7
(July 2, 1996).
In February 2014, as part of Andrews’ application for state
disability benefits, she attended a single examination with Dr.
See Tr. at 372–78.
Dr. Griffin observed that Andrews’
speech was normal, her affect was appropriate, and her mood was
Tr. at 375.
Andrews reported severe
depression and anxiety that worsened in social settings.
e.g., Tr. at 375.
Tr. at 375.
She also stated that she lacked friends.
Andrews reported the following daily routine: she
awoke at 4:30 AM each morning to drive her boyfriend to work and
spent the remainder of the day making breakfast for her
children, playing games with her son, preparing her daughter for
school, cleaning, playing games on her phone, picking up her
boyfriend from work, picking up her son from school, and
alternating cooking duties with her boyfriend.
See Tr. at 375.
Andrews successfully managed the household finances, but had
difficulty showering and cleaning on a regular basis, and
experienced anxiety while shopping alone.
See Tr. at 375.
medical care over the years was inconsistent, and she had a
history of failing to take her prescribed medication.
at 374–76, 378.
On the basis of the examination, Dr. Griffin opined that
Andrews has a “reduced quality of completion of daily activities
due to depressive symptoms”; “appears capable of interacting
appropriately with others on a superficial level but [her]
capacity for sustained relationships with others appears
somewhat reduced”; and has “difficulty with attention/
concentration and task completion.”
Tr. at 376–77.
work, Dr. Griffin opined, “[o]verall, [Andrews] does not appear
capable of interacting appropriately with others in a work
setting or adhering to a work schedule because of psychiatric
Tr. at 377.
Dr. Griffin added that Andrews “does
not appear to have had regular psychiatric treatment as an
adult,” and her functioning would improve if she consistently
received such treatment and took her prescribed medications.
See Tr. at 377–78.
Based in part on Dr. Griffin’s evaluation,
Andrews was found disabled for purposes of the state disability
program and Medicaid benefits.
Tr. at 365–371, 379.
The ALJ plainly considered Dr. Griffin’s opinion.
determining whether Andrews met a listed impairment and in
assessing her RFC, the ALJ explicitly discussed Dr. Griffin’s
findings, see Tr. at 107, 110, and repeatedly cited her report,
see Tr. at 106–07, 110.
Thus, the notion that the ALJ ignored
Dr. Griffin’s opinion is flatly incorrect.
The ALJ also evaluated Dr. Griffin’s opinion.
evaluating the medical opinions in the record, the ALJ wrote:
I have fully considered the findings contained within
the Medicaid Disability Determination, including the
finding that the claimant meets listing 12.04, as
previously discussed. Nevertheless, I give little
weight to such determination due to its inconsistency
with the objective medical evidence and the other
opinion evidence of record . . .
Tr. at 113.
Dr. Griffin’s opinion and findings were part of the
Although a nurse made findings for the
state, the ALJ evaluated Dr. Griffin’s opinion as well.
the ALJ repeatedly discusses it earlier in the decision.
e.g., Tr. at 110 (noting that Andrews “reported to Dr. Griffin
that she often forget[s] to take [her medication], indicating
she was not necessarily compliant with treatment”).
ALJ’s decision explains that the ALJ “fully considered the
findings contained within the Medicaid Disability Determination”
and found them inconsistent with the objective medical and
Tr. at 113.
Although the ALJ’s statements
are not a paragon of clarity, I conclude that the ALJ did
evaluate Dr. Griffin’s opinion.
Relatedly, Andrews argues that the ALJ erred by not
explicitly mentioning Dr. Griffin’s finding that Andrews “does
not appear capable of interacting appropriately with others in a
work setting or adhering to a work schedule because of
Tr. at 377; see Doc. No. 9–1 at 4.
the ALJ explicitly noted a contrary conclusion by reviewing
state agency psychologist Nicholas Kalfas, Ph.D.
Tr. at 113.
The ALJ gave partial weight to Dr. Kalfas’ opinion, discounting
only the “overly pessimistic” finding that Andrews had moderate
limitations in activities of daily living because the finding
conflicted with the record.
See Tr. at 113.
The ALJ also
mentioned and implicitly discounted a finding by examining
psychologist Robert Su Prescott, Ph.D., that Andrews had workinteraction limitations similar to those found by Dr. Griffin.
See Tr. at 112–13, 309.
The ALJ’s discussions are adequate when
coupled with her explanation that Dr. Griffin’s opinion was
“inconsisten[t] with the objective medical evidence and the
other opinion evidence of record.”
Tr. at 113.
assigned RFC essentially reflects the work-interaction
difficulties identified by Dr. Griffin with relatively minor
See Tr. at 108.
For these reasons, the ALJ did
not commit reversible error by not explicitly mentioning Dr.
See Ward, 211 F.3d at 656 (“While an error
of law by the ALJ may necessitate a remand, a remand is not
essential if it will amount to no more than an empty exercise.”
Accordingly, the ALJ’s handling of Dr. Griffin’s opinion
does not warrant remand.
Andrews next argues that the ALJ impermissibly used lay
knowledge to craft an RFC that departs from every medical
opinion in the record, including the lone physical RFC
The Acting Commissioner responds that the ALJ’s RFC
assessment was supported by substantial evidence and emphasizes
the dearth of objective medical evidence showing a disabling,
medically determinable physical impairment.
A claimant’s RFC is “the most [the claimant] can still do
despite [her] limitations.”
20 C.F.R. § 416.945(a)(1).
must assess the claimant’s RFC “based on all the relevant
evidence in [the] record.”
On appeal, I determine whether
the assigned RFC is free of legal error and supported by
See Nguyen, 172 F.3d at 35.
Andrews argues that the ALJ rejected every medical opinion
and used lay knowledge to “craft an RFC unlike any imagined by
the medical professionals in the [record].”
Doc. No. 9–1 at 6.
The ALJ gave the following assessment of Andrews’ mental
[Andrews] can understand, carry out and remember
simple instructions. She can make judgment[s] on
simple work that is repetitive from day to day with
few and expected changes. Furthermore, she can
interact occasionally with supervisors and coworkers,
but not with the general public.
Tr. at 108.
In crafting this RFC, the ALJ considered the
objective medical record, five opinions, Andrews’ daily
activities, her treatment history, and her statements about her
The ALJ determined that although Andrews’ depression
and panic disorder imposed functional limitations, her
allegations regarding the extent of those limitations were not
The ALJ’s RFC largely mirrors the RFC by reviewing state
agency psychologist Kalfas, who opined that Andrews
is limited to understanding, remembering and carrying
out short and simple instructions. She is able to get
along with coworkers and supervisors, and respond to
supervisory criticism, in a semi-isolated work station
under non-critical supervision. Under these
conditions, she is able to adjust to routine
stressors. She is able to ask simple questions,
request assistance, and set routine goals in the work
setting. She can keep a regular schedule without
special supervision. She is able to sustain a full 8
hour day and 40 hour week, without an unreasonable
number of interruptions from psychologically based
Tr. at 95.
The ALJ accorded Kalfas’ opinion partial weight.1
The ALJ also gave weight to a similar opinion by examining
consultant psychologist Su Prescott.2
As for the remaining
opinions, the ALJ explicitly considered and evaluated them.
The ALJ discounted only the finding that Andrews had moderate
limitations in activities of daily living. The ALJ explained
that this finding “overly pessimistic” in light of Andrews’
reported daily activities, including successfully caring for two
young children. See Tr. at 113.
The ALJ discounted Dr. Su Prescott’s opinion to the extent that
he examined Andrews only once and lacked a treating relationship
with her. Tr. at 112–13.
Tr. at 113–14.
Thus, despite Andrews’ protestation, the mental
RFC assessment found by the ALJ is a far cry from Jabre v.
Astrue, where the “ALJ reject[ed] the opinion of a medical
professional as a step toward fashioning an RFC that [was]
unsupported by any other medical opinion in the record.”
Jabre v. Astrue, No. 11-cv-332-JL, 2012 WL 1216260, at *8
(D.N.H. Apr. 5, 2012), report and recommendation adopted sub
nom. Jabre v. U.S. Soc. Sec. Admin., No. 11-cv-332-JL, 2012 WL
1205866 (D.N.H. Apr. 9, 2012).
Here, in contrast, the assigned
RFC is supported by the opinions of two psychologists.
More particularly, Andrews argues that “[t]he ALJ’s
limitation that ‘she can interact occasionally with supervisors
and co-workers’ is not supported by any medical opinion.”
No. 9–1 at 9.
I disagree because Dr. Kalfas expressed
essentially the same opinion that the ALJ adopted on this issue.
See Tr. at 95.3
Moreover, Andrews does not challenge the ALJ’s
The ALJ did not err by not explicitly adopting Dr. Kalfas’
statement that Andrews can “respond to supervisory criticism, in
a semi-isolated work station under non-critical supervision.”
See Tr. at 95; see also Doc. No. 9–1 at 9. The social
limitations found by the ALJ — only occasional interaction with
coworkers and supervisors and no interaction with the general
public — essentially reflect Dr. Kalfas’ vague limitations. See
Cericola v. Colvin, No. 2:12-CV-391-DBH, 2013 WL 5674342, at *2–
4 (D. Me. Oct. 15, 2013) (affirming where ALJ interpreted
limitation to “occasional or well-modulated criticism” as
limitation to “brief supervision” with a preference for
independent work); Downs v. Colvin, 2015 DNH 113, 9–11, 27
(affirming where ALJ omitted limitation of ‘not-overly-critical’
supervision but limited claimant to “brief and superficial”
determinations that she was not fully credible and failed to
follow prescribed treatment that would improve her symptoms.
See 20 C.F.R. § 416.930(a) (2015) (amended 2017) (“In order to
get benefits, you must follow treatment prescribed by your
physician if this treatment can restore your ability to work . .
. .”); see also, e.g., Tr. at 110 (noting that Andrews “was not
necessarily compliant with treatment”), 111, 112 (noting that
Andrews’ treatment was “essentially conservative,” and she “has
generally not received the type of medical treatment one would
expect for a disabled individual”).
Thus, the ALJ did not
improperly use lay knowledge in finding that Andrews could
occasionally interact with coworkers and supervisors.
interaction with supervisors); Breton v. Berryhill, 2017 DNH
061, 13 n.1, 26 (affirming where ALJ omitted limitation to ‘notoverly-critical’ supervision despite RFC opinion to that
effect); Robar v. Astrue, 2011 DNH 110, 9, 14, 22–23 (affirming
where ALJ omitted limitation to ‘not-overly critical’
supervision found in opinion to which ALJ gave great weight);
cf. Young v. Barnhart, 362 F.3d 995, 1002 (7th Cir. 2004)
(remanding where ALJ failed, inter alia, to limit claimant’s
interaction with supervisors despite finding that claimant had
limited ability to respond to supervisors’ criticism).
Moreover, several opinions omitted a limitation to non-critical
supervision. Cf. Lincourt v. Colvin, 2014 DNH 199, 9–12, 14
(affirming where at least one RFC evaluation found claimant
could accept supervisory criticism, and implicitly finding ‘notoverly-critical’ supervision limitation was consistent with no
supervisory limitation and occasional coworker interaction).
But see MacKenzie v. Colvin, 2016 DNH 034, 7, 10–13 (remanding
where, inter alia, ALJ limited claimant to “brief and
superficial social interaction with . . . supervisors” but “ALJ
did not explain why he omitted the requirement of a non-critical
supervisor” found in only opinion supporting ability to work).
For these reasons, the ALJ did not err in assessing
Andrews’ mental limitations.
Andrews next argues that the ALJ improperly used lay
knowledge in arriving at a physical RFC that was not fully
supported by the only physical RFC evaluation in the record.
The Acting Commissioner responds that the evidence did not
support more than a mild physical impairment.
Before examining Andrews’ argument, I highlight what she
does not challenge.
First, Andrews does not challenge the ALJ’s
conclusion at step two that she had no severe, medically
determinable physical impairments.
See 20 C.F.R. § 416.905
(“The law defines disability as the inability to do any
substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment . . . To meet this
definition, you must have a severe impairment(s). . . .”); §
416.908 (2015) (amended 2017) (“Your impairment must result from
anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities which
can be shown by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques” and cannot be established merely “by your
statement of symptoms”).
Had the ALJ not found that Andrews’
mental impairments were severe, the ALJ would not have fashioned
an RFC because her disability claim would have failed at step
See § 416.920(a)(4)(ii); Tonev v. Sullivan, 977 F.2d 566,
at *2 (1st Cir. 1992) (per curiam) (unpublished); Perez v. Sec’y
of Health & Human Servs., 958 F.2d 445, 446–47 (1st Cir. 1991)
Second, Andrews does not challenge the ALJ’s credibility
Andrews bore the burden of proving by a
preponderance of the evidence that she was disabled due to a
medically determinable impairment.
See Morse v. U.S. Soc. Sec.
Admin., Comm’r, No. 12-cv-446-PB, 2013 WL 5776148, at *5 (D.N.H.
Oct. 25, 2013); § 416.905.
But a claimant’s statements about
her pain cannot alone establish that she is disabled.
§ 416.929(a) (2015) (amended 2017).
Instead, “there must be
medical signs and laboratory findings which show . . . a medical
impairment(s) which could reasonably be expected to produce the
pain or other symptoms alleged.”
Andrews fails to
challenge the ALJ’s determination that the pain Andrews reported
was not credible to the extent alleged, given the medical record
and her daily activities.
With these considerations in mind, I examine Andrews’
argument that the ALJ improperly used lay knowledge to assign a
physical RFC without an expert RFC evaluation directly on point.
Generally, “an ALJ, as a lay person, is not qualified to
interpret raw data in a medical record.”
Manso-Pizarro v. Sec’y
Andrews does not argue that the ALJ failed to consider all of
her impairments in formulating the RFC.
of Health & Human Servs., 76 F.3d 15, 17 (1st Cir. 1996) (per
For that reason, “an expert’s RFC evaluation is
“Of course, where the medical
evidence shows relatively little physical impairment, an ALJ
permissibly can render a commonsense judgment about functional
capacity even without a physician’s assessment.”
independent judgments are permissible so long as the “evidence
suggests a relatively mild . . . impairment posing, to the
layperson's eye, no significant . . . restrictions.”
Barnhart, 67 F. App’x 621, 623 (1st Cir. 2003) (per curiam)
(unpublished) (alterations in original) (quoting Manso-Pizarro,
76 F.3d at 17–18); see also Gordils v. Sec’y of Health & Human
Servs., 921 F.2d 327, 329 (per curiam).
The medical record and the hearing in this case centered on
Andrews’ mental limitations, not any exertional or postural
Although Andrews alleged that she had physical
impairments, she conceded to the ALJ that “they’re not
Tr. at 42.
Andrews alleged “severe back and hip
pain” and tendonitis in her arms, Tr. at 42, 218,5 but she did
not discuss these alleged impairments with treating providers,
see, e.g., Tr. at 373–74.
At Andrews’ primary-care
appointments, she consistently presented with a normal gait,
The ALJ also recognized Andrews’ acne, obesity, and headaches
as non-severe impairments.
see, e.g., Tr. at 329, 334, 337, inconsistently reported back
and joint pain, see, e.g., Tr. at 325, 333, 346, and
musculoskeletal examinations were normal, see, e.g., Tr. at 325,
The record contains one physical RFC report.
In July 2013,
Andrews was examined by consulting physician G. Silvia SironichKalkan, M.D.
Tr. at 301.
The examination results were
Although Andrews alleged arm and hand
numbness, and Dr. Sironich-Kalkan noted spinal “tenderness,”
there is no elaboration.
Tr. at 303.
Dr. Sironich-Kalkan wrote
reports that she can be sitting as much as she needs,
standing 15 minutes, her back hurts, walking 30
minutes, she has pain in her feet and her hip. In an
assessment of eight hours, she can cumulative be
sitting for four hours and standing and walking for
three hours. She does not need to lie down during the
day. She can lift and carry on an occasional basis 70
pounds. She has no trouble bending, squatting, or
kneeling for short periods of time.
Tr. at 301.
The ALJ accorded this opinion little weight.
The ALJ noted
that although the examination revealed no significant
abnormalities, Dr. Sironich-Kalkan determined without
explanation that Andrews was subject to restrictive limits on
sitting, standing, and walking.
The ALJ explained that those
assessments “are essentially a reflection of the claimant’s
self-reported allegations of physical pain and limitations and
are unsupported by the medical record and her own
Tr. at 112.
I conclude that the ALJ did not err in discounting Dr.
Sironich-Kalkan’s conspicuously self-contradictory assessment.
Dr. Sironich-Kalkan noted Andrews’ admission that “she can be
sitting as much as she needs,” but inexplicably opined that
Andrews “can cumulative be sitting for four hours.”
Tr. at 301.
Similarly, Dr. Sironich-Kalkan wrote that Andrews “does not need
to lie down during the day,” but inexplicably opined that she
can cumulatively sit, stand, and walk for only seven out of
Tr. at 301.
These limitations conflict not only
with Dr. Sironich-Kalkan’s essentially normal examination
results, but also with Andrews’ sparse complaints to treating
sources and the absence of any supporting diagnoses, treatment,
and diagnostic or laboratory findings.
Finally, although Dr.
Sironich-Kalkan opined that Andrews’ anxiety and depression
precluded work, she failed to likewise state that Andrews’
alleged physical impairments precluded work.
significant weaknesses in Dr. Sironich-Kalkan’s opinion, the ALJ
permissibly accorded it little weight.
See Swales v. Berryhill,
No. 16-10214-RWZ, 2017 WL 1164488, at *3–4 (D. Mass. Mar. 28,
2017) (stating that ALJ did not err in according little weight
to only physical RFC evaluation in record).
Andrews also argues that the ALJ erred in assessing an RFC
without an expert RFC opinion directly on point.
It is true, of course, that an ALJ may not interpret technical
medical data or draw functional conclusions from a highly
ramified medical record.
But the flaw in Andrews’ position is
the lack of medical evidence of disabling physical impairments
to evaluate in the first place.
For example, a physician
assistant examining Andrews noted that her disabling impairment
was “mental status (anxiety)” without noting any disabling
See Tr. at 114, 325 (also noting that
Andrews denied any pain, including back and joint pain); SSR 0603p, 2006 WL 2329939, at *2 (August 9, 2006) (stating that ALJ
may use information from physician assistants to assess severity
and functional impact of an impairment).
Although the ALJ as
layperson may not interpret raw, technical, medical data,
Andrews does not cite any medical evidence that outstripped the
ALJ’s ken as a layperson.
Andrews does not even suggest what
medically determinable physical impairment could plausibly have
imposed the sitting, standing, and walking limitations found by
I conclude that the ALJ was permitted to draw the
commonsense conclusion that Andrews was physically able to
perform sedentary work.
Sedentary work generally involves
sitting for six hours, standing or walking for two hours, and
lifting at most 10 pounds.
See 20 C.F.R. § 416.967(a); SSR 83-
10, 1983 WL 31251, at *5 (January 1, 1983).
The ALJ was
permitted to find that Andrews had the required capacity for
lifting because there was no evidence of diminished strength and
Dr. Sironich-Kalkan found that Andrews could occasionally lift
See § 416.967(a); Tr. at 301.
The ALJ was also
permitted to find that Andrews could sit for six hours.
was no objective medical evidence of hip or back impairments,
save a lone note of spinal “tenderness,” and the record does not
contain any explanation, diagnosis, or treatment.
ALJ’s credibility determination went unchallenged, and Andrews
admitted that she can sit “as much as she needs.”
Tr. at 301.
The ALJ was also permitted to find that Andrews could perform
the modest standing and walking required for sedentary work.
There was simply no diagnosis of hip or back disorder, no
medical evidence to corroborate Andrews’ one-off complaint of
foot pain, and no treatment for these alleged impairments.
addition, Andrews admitted doing housework for five-hour
stretches, Tr. at 92, and Dr. Sironich-Kalkan found that she can
stand and walk for three hours, see Tr. at 301.
In these ways, the “evidence suggests a relatively mild
physical impairment posing, to the layperson's eye, no
significant . . . restrictions.”
See Manso-Pizarro, 76 F.3d at
17–18; Roberts, 67 F. App’x at 623.
Thus, the ALJ was permitted
to make a commonsense judgment about Andrews’ physical
See Gordils, 921 F.2d at 329 (finding no expert
required); Perez, 958 F.2d at 447 (same); Roberts, 67 F. App’x
at 624 (same); cf. Manso-Pizarro, 76 F.3d at 17–19 (finding
expert required because record on claimant’s heart condition was
sufficiently ramified, containing diagnoses, symptoms,
treatment, and lengthy hospitalizations).
surely had severe mental impairments, the ALJ permissibly
concluded that she did not have physical limitations that
precluded sedentary work.
I do not find reversible error.6
For the reasons stated, I grant the Acting Commissioner’s
motion to affirm (Doc. No. 15) and deny Andrews’ motion to
Any error was harmless. The ALJ found that Andrews “has
the residual functional capacity to perform a full-range of
work at all exertional levels,” subject to non-exertional
limitations. Tr. at 108. Even if the ALJ erred in finding
that Andrews could physically perform very heavy work, that
error was harmless because the ALJ permissibly concluded
that she could perform sedentary work. See Gordils, 921
F.2d at 329. The ALJ and the vocational expert
specifically identified a significant number of sedentary
jobs that Andrews can perform. See Tr. at 115–16
(identifying 448,000 sedentary jobs nationwide); see also
Dashnaw v. Astrue, 2011 DNH 178, 16–17 (finding 30,000 jobs
nationwide to be significant); Vining v. Astrue, 720 F.
Supp. 2d 126, 137 (D. Me. 2010) (collecting cases and
finding approximately 10,000 to 11,000 jobs nationwide to
reverse (Doc. No. 9).
The clerk is directed to enter judgment
accordingly and close the case.
United States District Judge
June 20, 2017
Laurie Smith Young, Esq.
T. David Plourde, Esq.
Terry L. Ollila, Esq.
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