McTague v. Astrue
MEMORANDUM (Order to follow as separate docket entry)Signed by Honorable Malachy E Mannion on 12/31/13. (ts)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
BRIAN C. McTAGUE,
: CIVIL ACTION NO. 3:12-1407
CAROLYN W. COLVIN,1
Acting Commissioner of
The record in this action has been reviewed pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§405(g) to determine whether there is substantial evidence to support the
Commissioner’s decision denying the plaintiff’s claim for Disability Insurance
Benefits (“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under the Social
Security Act, (“Act”). 42 U.S.C. §§401-433, 1381-1383f.
The plaintiff applied for DIB on January 2, 2009 and for SSI on January
On February 14, 2013, Carolyn Colvin became acting Commission of Social
Security. Pursuant to Rule 25(d) of the Federal Rules of Civil procedure, she
has been substituted as the defendant.
20, 2009. (Tr. 23). In the applications, he claimed disability starting on
September 9, 2008. Both applications were initially denied on July 8, 2009
and the plaintiff requested an administrative hearing. (Id.). The Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ) held a hearing on June 28, 2010 and took testimony from
the plaintiff and a vocational expert. After the hearing, the ALJ concluded the
plaintiff could perform a range of sedentary work including jobs such as bottle
packer, assembler, and inspector. The ALJ then concluded the plaintiff was
not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (Tr. 27, 32-33).
The Appeals Council denied the plaintiff’s request for review, making the
ALJ’s decision final. See 42 U.S.C. §405(g).
At issue before this court is whether substantial evidence supports the
Commissioner’s decision that the plaintiff was not disabled because he was
capable of performing a limited range of sedentary work prior to the date
when his insured status expired for purposes of disability insurance benefits.
The plaintiff filed his brief in support of his appeal on December 12, 2012.
(Doc. No. 10). The defendant filed a brief in opposition on January 2, 2013,
(Doc. No. 11), and plaintiff filed a reply brief on January 9, 2013. (Doc. No.
12). The case is now ripe for the court’s decision.
STANDARD OF REVIEW.
When reviewing the denial of disability benefits, we must determine
whether the denial is supported by substantial evidence. Brown v. Bowen, 845
F.2d 1211, 1213 (3d Cir. 1988); Johnson v. Commissioner of Social Sec., 529
F.3d 198, 200 (3d Cir. 2008). Substantial evidence “does not mean a large or
considerable amount of evidence, but rather such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Pierce
v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552 (1988); Hartranft v. Apfel, 181 F.3d 358, 360. (3d
Cir. 1999), Johnson, 529 F.3d at 200. It is less than a preponderance of the
evidence but more than a mere scintilla. Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389,
To receive disability benefits, the plaintiff must demonstrate an “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. §432(d)(1)(A). Furthermore,
[a]n individual shall be determined to be under a disability only if
[his] physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such
severity that [he] is not only unable to do [his] previous work but
cannot, considering [his] age, education, and work experience,
engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists
in the national economy, regardless of whether such work exists
in the immediate area in which [he] lives, or whether a specific job
vacancy exists for [him], or whether [he] would be hired if [he]
applied for work. For purposes of the preceding sentence (with
respect to any individual), ‘work which exists in the national
economy’ means work which exists in significant numbers either
in the region where such individual lives or in several regions of
42 U.S.C. §423(d)(2)(A).
DISABILITY EVALUATION PROCESS.
A five-step evaluation process is used to determine if a person is eligible
for disability benefits. See 20 C.F.R. §404.1520. See also Plummer v. Apfel,
186 F.3d 422, 428 (3d Cir. 1999). If the Commissioner finds that a plaintiff is
disabled or not disabled at any point in the sequence, review does not
proceed any further. See 20 C.F.R. §404.1520. The Commissioner must
sequentially determine: (1) whether the claimant is engaged in substantial
gainful activity; (2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment; (3) whether
the claimant’s impairment meets or equals a listed impairment; (4) whether
the claimant’s impairment prevents the claimant from doing past relevant
work; and (5) whether the claimant’s impairment prevents the claimant from
doing any other work. See 20 C.F.R. §404.1520.
Here, the ALJ proceeded through each step of the sequential evaluation
process and concluded that the plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning
of the Act. (TR. 26-33). At step one, the ALJ found that the plaintiff has not
engaged in substantial gainful work activity at any time during the period from
his alleged onset date of September 9, 2009 through his decision. (Tr. 26).
At step two, the ALJ concluded that the plaintiff’s impairments (major
depressive disorder, anxiety, left knee internal derangement, and situational
depression) were severe within the meaning of the Regulations. (TR. 26). At
step three, the ALJ found that the plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed
impairments in Subpart P, Appendix 1, Regulations No. 4. (20 C.F.R.
§404.1520(d), §404.1520(d) and §416.920(d)). (TR. 26).
The ALJ found that the plaintiff has the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”), to perform a range of sedentary work. (TR. 27). At step four, the ALJ
found that through the date of decision, the plaintiff was unable to perform his
past relevant work. (Tr. 32). At step five, the ALJ concluded that considering
the plaintiff’s residual functional capacity, age, education and work
experience, there were significant jobs in the national economy that the
plaintiff could perform. (TR. 32).
The ALJ therefore concluded that the plaintiff had not been under a
disability, as defined in the Act, at any time from September 9, 2008, the
alleged onset date, through the date of his decision. 20 C.F.R. §§404.1520(g)
and 216.920(g). (TR. 33).
The plaintiff was 49 and one-half years old when the ALJ issued his
decision. (Tr. 131). He has a 9th grade education and worked consistently for
the Martz bus company from April 1988 until June 2005, when he alleges he
became disabled. (Tr. 32, 208). The record is clear that the plaintiff cannot
continue his past work due to his limitations. The plaintiff testified to daily
panic attacks that require him to take Xanax and wait for up to a half hour for
it to take effect. (Tr. 62-63). During the hearing, the plaintiff claimed he could
only sit or stand for up to a half hour at a time, (Tr. 60), had stabbing pains in
his left knee that were an eight on a scale of ten in terms of severity, (Tr. 55),
he could only lift one pound at most, (Tr. 59), and suffered from depression
and daily panic attacks. (Tr. 61-62).
The plaintiff’s knee ailments started when he suffered a work-related
knee injury in 2004. He subsequently underwent two knee surgeries in June
2005 and June 2006. He has been in physical therapy, but still complains of
left knee pain, swelling, and instability. (Tr. 27).
The patient was treated by Dr. Thomas Meade, M.D., his treating
orthopedic surgeon. (Tr. 271). Dr. Meade diagnosed the plaintiff in August
2008 with patello femoral athrosis status post-work related injury and
arthoscopy; arthofibrosis; quad atrophy; antalgic gait; and neurogenic pain.
(Tr. 272). The doctor recommended use of anti-inflammatory medicine,
change in diet, and some joint exercises. (Id.). In February 2009, Dr. Meade
again saw the plaintiff and made a similar diagnosis, but also noted the
plaintiff had no muscle pain, no muscle weakness, no joint pain, and no back
pain. (Tr. 347). Dr. Meade has consistently concluded that the plaintiff would
be unable to work in his current condition, including an April 16, 2010 followup. (Tr. 263, 718-719, 721). However, in that same report, the doctor notes
the plaintiff is complaining of pain in his knee, but his report notes, again, no
pain in muscle, joint, or back pain. (Tr. 722). The examination of the plaintiff’s
lower body revealed he had full range of active and passive motion of the
hips, knees, and ankles. He further noted that the plaintiff’s hip and knee
flexion and extension strength were both 5/5. (Tr. 723).
Dr. Kimberly Kovalick, M.D., the plaintiff’s treating physician, has been
seeing the plaintiff every few months since April 2005. She completed a
multiple impairment questionnaire on November 10, 2009. (Tr. 693). In that
questionnaire, she noted the plaintiff could sit for between four and six hours
per day and could stand or walk for up to four hours per day. (Tr. 695). The
plaintiff could also frequently lift and carry up to 10 pounds and occasionally
lift and carry up to 20 pounds. (Tr. 696). He also had tenderness in his back
and pain in his knee. (Tr. 693). She also concluded the plaintiff could not
push, pull, kneel, bend, or stoop and should not be put in a competitive work
environment. (Tr. 695-699).
Dr. Scott Prince, D.O., consulted on the case and concluded the plaintiff
could lift and carry up to 10 pounds frequently and up to 20 pounds
occasionally. (Tr. 498). He could also stand for up to 2 hours and could sit for
an unlimited period of time. (Id.). Dr. Prince’s evaluation also shows the
plaintiff had nearly full range of motion in his left knee, (Tr. 500), partial
lumbar flexion-extension, full lumbar lateral flexion, and full ankle flexion. (Tr.
501). Finally, state physician Dr. Susan Kintz concluded that the plaintiff could
frequently stoop, lift up to 20 pounds, stand for up to six hours, and sit for
about 6 hours. (Tr. 513-14).
In January 2009, the plaintiff was diagnosed with “having a major
depressive disorder of a single episode and his global assessment functioning
was rated as 51.” (Tr. 471). After beginning treatment and taking medication,
the plaintiff reported in November and December 2009, they were helping and
he was not suffering from any side effects. (Tr. 645, 712). In June 2010 the
patient continued to show improvement, denied having racing thoughts,
something he reported prior, and said that he “was doing well.” (Tr. 738).
A. The ALJ properly applied the GRID regulations to the plaintiff’s age
and specific physical limitations
The plaintiff first contents that the ALJ misapplied the GRID age by
failing to engage in a borderline age analysis. (Doc. No. 10). The relevant
We will use each of the age categories that applies to you during
the period for which we must determine if you are disabled. We
will not apply the age categories mechanically in a borderline
situation. If you are within a few days to a few months of reaching
an older age category, and using the older age category would
result in a determination or decision that you are disabled, we will
consider whether to use the older age category after evaluating
the overall impact of all the factors of your case.
20 CFR §404.1563(b). The plaintiff argues that the ALJ should have applied
the standard for a person closely approaching advanced age (50-54 years
old). 20 CFR §404.1563(d). There is no “authority extending the benefits of
a ‘borderline’ age determination to persons like [the plaintiff] who are within
five (5) or (6) months of their fiftieth birthday.” Roberts v. Barnhart, 139 F.
App’x 418, 420 (3d Cir. 2005). “The ALJ is obligated to apply the age
categories loosely in a borderline situation, and to make a determination
based on all the factors in a given case.” Palmer v. Astrue, 2010 WL
1254266, *5 (E.D. Pa. March 31, 2010) (citing 20 C.F.R. §§404.1563,
At the time of the ALJ’s determination, the plaintiff was six months and
eleven days from turning fifty. (Tr. 32; Doc. No. 10). The ALJ noted that the
guidelines directed him to make a finding of “not disabled;” however, the ALJ
further made inquiry with the vocational expert as to “whether jobs exist in the
national economy for an individual with the claimant’s age, education, work
experience and residual function capacity.” (Tr. 33). The ALJ specifically
asked the vocational expert four hypothetical questions that included the
plaintiff’s specific ailments and limitations. (Tr. 70-72). Even taking these
restrictions into account, the vocational expert identified a range of
occupations that would be appropriate for the plaintiff. (Id.).
The parties point the court to various District Court and Third Circuit
cases that have touched on the issue of “borderline” age situations. See
Roberts, 139 F. App’x at 419 (holding plaintiff that was five or six months from
higher age category did not require borderline age analysis); Morealli v
Astrue, 2010 WL 654396, *9 (W.D.Pa. Feb. 23, 2010) (ALJ erred in not
considering plaintiff’s borderline situation when plaintiff was five and one-half
months from a higher age classification); Istik v. Astrue, 2009 WL 382503, *45 (W.D.Pa. Feb. 13, 2009) (ALJ erred in not considering borderline age
situation when plaintiff was seven months shy of turning fifty-five). However,
given the plaintiff is not within six months of the approaching advanced age
category, the ALJ properly considered his specific limitations in his decision.
“[T]he unrefuted evidence provided by the vocational expert, supports the
ALJ's conclusion that [the plaintiff]'s age was not a factor significantly limiting
[his] vocational adaptability.” Roberts, 139 F. App’x at 420. There was no error
in not applying the actual age category in this case as the ALJ made his
decision based on the plaintiff’s specific limitations and restrictions.
The ALJ properly evaluated the opinions of the plaintiff’s treating
The plaintiff argues that the ALJ failed to accord the appropriate weight
to the opinions of his treating orthopedist and physician. He specifically
contends the ALJ erred in giving little weight to Dr. Meade’s findings about the
plaintiff’s ability to work and no weight to Dr. Kovalick’s and Dr. Prince’s
evaluations that concluded the plaintiff could never stoop. (Do. No. 10; Tr.
499, 699). The plaintiff further argues that omitting the stooping limitation from
the hypothetical posed to the vocational expert constitutes error.
The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit set forth the standard for
evaluating the opinion of a treating physician in the case of Morales v. Apfel,
225 F.3d 310 (3d Cir. 2000). The Court stated:
A cardinal principle guiding disability eligibility
determinations is that the ALJ accord treating physicians' reports
great weight, especially "when their opinions reflect expert
judgment based on a continuing observation of the patient's
condition over a prolonged period of time." Plummer [v. Apfel, 186
F.3d 422, 429 (3d Cir.1999)] (quoting Rocco v. Heckler, 826 F.2d
1348, 1350 (3d Cir.1987)); see also Adorno v. Shalala, 40 F.3d
43, 47 (3d Cir.1994); Jones, 954 F.2d at 128; Allen v. Bowen, 881
F.2d 37, 40-41 (3d Cir.1989); Frankenfield v. Bowen, 861 F.2d
405, 408 (3d Cir.1988); Brewster, 786 F.2d at 585. Where, as
here, the opinion of a treating physician conflicts with that of a
non-treating, non-examining physician, the ALJ may choose
whom to credit but "cannot reject evidence for no reason or for
the wrong reason." Plummer, 186 F.3d at 429 (citing Mason v.
Shalala, 994 F.2d 1058, 1066 (3d Cir.1993)). The ALJ must
consider the medical findings that support a treating physician's
opinion that the claimant is disabled. See Adorno, 40 F.3d at 48.
In choosing to reject the treating physician's assessment, an ALJ
may not make "speculative inferences from medical reports" and
may reject "a treating physician's opinion outright only on the
basis of contradictory medical evidence" and not due to his or her
own credibility judgments, speculation or lay opinion. Plummer,
186 F.3d at 429; Frankenfield v. Bowen, 861 F.2d 405, 408 (3d
Cir.1988); Kent, 710 F.2d at 115.
Id. at 317-318.
Similarly, the Social Security Regulations state that when the opinion of
a treating physician is “well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with the other
substantial evidence in your case record,” it is to be given controlling weight.
20 C.F.R. §416.927(d)(2). When the opinion of a treating physician is not
given controlling weight, the length of the treatment relationship and the
frequency of examination must be considered. The Regulations state:
Generally, the longer a treating source has treated you and the
more times you have been seen by a treating source, the more
weight we will give to the source's medical opinion. When the
treating source has seen you a number of times and long enough
to have obtained a longitudinal picture of your impairment, we will
give the source's opinion more weight than we would give it if it
were from a non-treating source.
20 C.F.R. §416.927(d)(2)(I).
Additionally, the nature and extent of the treatment relationship is
considered. The Regulations state:
Generally, the more knowledge a treating source has about your
impairment(s) the more weight we will give to the source's medical
opinion. We will look at the treatment the source has provided and
at the kinds and extent of examinations and testing the source has
performed or ordered from specialists and independent
laboratories. For example, if your ophthalmologist notices that you
have complained of neck pain during your eye examinations, we
will consider his or her opinion with respect to your neck pain, but
we will give it less weight than that of another physician who has
treated you for the neck pain. When the treating source has
reasonable knowledge of your impairment(s), we will give the
source’s opinion more weight than we would give it if it were from
a nontreating source.
20 C.F.R. §416.927(d)(2)(ii).
The ALJ weighed the opinion of Dr. Meade, as well as the relevant
objective medical evidence, and concluded that the plaintiff was not completely
disabled. See Corly v. Barnhart, 102 Fed. App’x 752 (3d Cir. 2004); Adorno v.
Shalala, 40 F.3d 43, 47-48 (3d Cir. 1999) (holding that a statement by a
treating physician deeming a plaintiff “disabled” or “unable to work” is not
dispositive. An ALJ must review all the medical findings and other evidence
and weigh it against the opinion of the treating physician). The ALJ determined
that Dr. Meade’s opinion that the plaintiff is incapable of gainful employment
due to his “knee pain, inability to ambulate or sit for a prolonged period of time
without severe knee pain and neurogenic pain,” (Tr. 263), was not supported
by the objective medical record or the doctor’s own examination. (Tr. 28).
The ALJ referenced Dr. Meade’s own findings in rejecting his disability
opinion. (Tr. 28). The ALJ reviewed Dr. Meade’s notes from his April 16, 2010
exam of the plaintiff, which noted the plaintiff “reports no muscle aches, no
muscle weaknesses, no arthralgias/joint pain, and no back pain.” (Tr. 722).
The examination of the plaintiff’s lower body revealed he had full range of
motion and strength in his hips, knees, and ankles. (Tr. 723). In light of the
conclusory nature of his opinion and the objective medical evidence in both Dr.
Meade’s and other reports, including Dr. Kovalick’s, Dr. Prince’s, and Dr.
Kintz’s diagnoses about plaintiff’s ability to carry weight and sit/stand at
various intervals, the ALJ properly discredited his opinion about plaintiff’s
The ALJ also concluded that Dr. Kovalick and Dr. Prince incorrectly
opined the plaintiff could never stoop. (Tr. 29). The ALJ did not credit either
stooping opinion as he determined they were not based on the objective
medical evidence or the doctors’ own examination. In fact, Dr. Kovalick’s
examination demonstrated the plaintiff could engage in limited work that
included lifting light objects, standing and walking for many hours, and sitting
for prolonged periods of time. (Tr. 695-96). As such activity is linked to having
some ability to lift and carry significant weight, it was properly discredited by
The ALJ further discussed Dr. Prince’s report, giving weight to his
determinations about the plaintiff’s ability to perform sedentary work, but
rejecting his conclusions regarding his inability to stoop or climb. (Tr. 28-29).
The ALJ concluded the opinion about stooping was undermined by the
conclusions about the plaintiff’s abilities, including carrying up to 20 pounds,
and was therefore inconsistent with the substantial evidence of record. (Tr. 2829). Finally, Dr. Kintz agreed on the lifting and carrying 20 pounds, but said the
plaintiff would be able to stoop, directly contradicting the other opinions. (Tr.
513-14). In sum, there was substantial medical evidence contained in the
record to support the ALJ’s rejection of Dr. Meade’s disability conclusion, as
well as Dr. Kovalick’s and Dr. Prince’s stooping limitation. The ALJ did not err
in rejecting these unsupported and contradicted opinions.
C. The ALJ properly evaluated the credibility of the plaintiff
The plaintiff lastly contends that the ALJ improperly discredited his
testimony through observations at the hearing and that he improperly
evaluated the plaintiff’s testimony about his mental impairments. (Doc. No. 10).
“[A]n ALJ's findings based on the credibility of the applicant are to be
accorded great weight and deference, particularly since an ALJ is charged with
the duty of observing a witness's demeanor and credibility.’ Walters v.
Commissioner of Social Sec., 127 F.3d 525, 531 (6th Cir.1997); see also
Casias v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 933 F.2d 799, 801 (10th
Cir.1991) (‘We defer to the ALJ as trier of fact, the individual optimally
positioned to observe and assess witness credibility.’).” Frazier v. Apfel, 2000
WL 288246 (E.D. Pa. March 7, 2000).“The ALJ must indicate in his decision
which evidence he has rejected and which he is relying on as the basis for his
finding.” Schaudeck v. Com. of Soc. Sec., 181 F. 3d 429, 433 (3d Cir. 1999).
An ALJ may find testimony to be not credible, but he must “give great weight
to a claimant’s subjective testimony of the inability to perform even light or
sedentary work when this testimony is supported by competent medical
The ALJ credited the plaintiff’s testimony about his general symptoms,
but discounted the plaintiff’s claims about the “intensity, duration, and limiting
of effects” of those same symptoms. (Tr. 31). The plaintiff claimed much more
severe symptoms when on the stand: sitting or standing for only a half hour,
stabbing pains, lifting one pound, and daily panic attacks. (Tr. 55, 59, 6062).The ALJ pointed to the physical exam findings within the record and the
plaintiff’s own admissions contained within the medical records in not finding
his testimony credibly. (Id.).
As discussed above, the record is replete with evidence that contradicts
the plaintiff’s testimony. Three doctors opined he could carry up to ten pounds
frequently and twenty pounds on occasion. (Tr. 498, 513, 696). Three doctors
opined he could stand for anywhere between two to four hours and could sit
for between five hours or without limitation. (Tr. 498, 513, 695). During his
February 2, 2009 physical therapy, the plaintiff noted his pain was four out of
ten and was decreasing with the use of muscle relaxers. (Tr. 393). Also, his
treating physician, Dr. Kovalick, stated that he had “moderate” pain at a four
to six on a scale to ten. (Tr. 695). Even though she noted his back pain during
the November 11, 2009 exam, (Tr. 693), she also cleared him to lift and carry
up to twenty pounds. (Tr. 696). During his April 16, 2010 interview with Dr.
Meade, the plaintiff reported no back or muscle pain. (Tr. 722). In sum, the
ALJ properly concluded that the testimony and substantial evidence of the
record support his finding that the plaintiff’s physical symptoms were credibly
reported, but that the plaintiff’s description of the duration, intensity, and
frequency were not supported by substantial evidence in the record.
The plaintiff also contends the ALJ failed to address his “strong and
consistent work record [as] an important factor in assessing credibility as to
pain and inability to work.” Preble v. Astrue, 2009 WL 473750, *15 (M.D.Pa.
Feb. 25, 2009). The plaintiff does have a strong work history, having been
employed by the same employer as a bus mechanic for over 17 years. (Tr.
172). However, as the Third Circuit held in Doborowolsky v. Califano, 606 F.2d
403, 409 (3d Cir. 1979), “[t]estimony of subjective pain and inability to perform
even light work entitled to great weight, particularly when, as here, it is
supported by competent medical evidence.” (emphasis added). The plaintiff’s
subjective testimony about his pain and inability to work is not supported by
any of the objective medical evidence in the record. In fact, every medical
report contradicts the plaintiff’s testimony in most respects. As such, the ALJ’s
failure to include the plaintiff’s strong work history in his credibility
determination was not error.
Finally, the plaintiff contends that the ALJ improperly did not credit his
subjective testimony about his depression and anxiety. (Doc. No. 10). The
plaintiff points this court to Eberhart v. Massanari, 172 F.Supp.2d 589, 597
(M.D.Pa. 2001), arguing that “ALJ apparently scoured the record to find every
possible means to discredit the plaintiff, and make it appear that h[is] disability
left h[im] with a residual ability to perform work.” However, unlike that case,
“[c]orroborating medical evidence [supported the] ALJ's finding that a claimant
lacks disabling” mental impairments. Id.
The plaintiff testified to daily panic attacks that require him to take
Xanax and wait for up to a half hour for it to take effect. (Tr. 62-63). The ALJ
noted that the plaintiff was diagnosed with “having a major depressive disorder
of a single episode and his global assessment functioning was rated as 51.”
(Tr. 30). According to the DSM-IV Manuel, this rating shows the plaintiff has
moderate difficulty with social and occupational functioning. (Id.). In late 2009
the plaintiff reported an improved condition, as his medications were helping
and he was not suffering from any side effects. (Tr. 645, 712). He also denied
having racing thoughts, something he reported prior, and said that he “was
doing well.” (Tr. 738). Moreover, Dr. Meade wrote that although the plaintiff
was being treated for depression, he noted no depression and had “a positive
mood with appropriate affect.” (Tr. 722-23). Taken together, these medical
reports indicate the plaintiff was showing consistent improvement and was
tolerating his medications well. This objective medical evidence stands in stark
contrast to the daily debilitating panic attacks reported at the hearing. There
is nothing in the record that corroborates the plaintiff’s claims that his mental
condition, after months of improvement, somehow became worse than ever.
As such, the ALJ did not err in giving little weight to the plaintiff’s testimony in
light of the competent medical evidence.
For the reasons stated above, the plaintiff’s appeal from the decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security, (Doc. No. 1), is DENIED. An appropriate
order will follow.
s/ Malachy E. Mannion
MALACHY E. MANNION
United States District Judge
DATE: December 31, 2013
O:\Mannion\shared\MEMORANDA - DJ\CIVIL MEMORANDA\2012 MEMORANDA\12-1407-01.hhs.wpd
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