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Artz v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

September 4, 2014

DIANE MARIE ARTZ, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

J. RICHARD CREATURA, Magistrate Judge.

This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), Fed.R.Civ.P. 73 and Local Magistrate Judge Rule MJR 13 ( see also Notice of Initial Assignment to a U.S. Magistrate Judge and Consent Form, ECF No. 3; Consent to Proceed Before a United States Magistrate Judge, ECF No. 4). This matter has been fully briefed ( see ECF Nos. 11, 12, 13).

After considering and reviewing the record, the Court finds that the ALJ did not err when reviewing the medical evidence from an examining physician as he appropriately found that some of the limitations opined by Dr. Liu are inconsistent with medical evidence demonstrating plaintiff's normal to excellent strength in her upper extremities. The ALJ's inference that Dr. Liu's opinion regarding the extent of some of plaintiff's limitations therefore was based largely on plaintiff's non-credible statements about her pain and symptoms is a logical inference supported by the record. The ALJ likewise did not err when reviewing plaintiff's credibility, noting her inconsistent statements about the effect of her impairments, and noting that her allegations are inconsistent with the contemporaneous reports of actual functioning.

Therefore, this matter is affirmed pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, DIANE MARIE ARTZ, was born in 1970 and was 40 years old on the alleged date of disability onset of April 20, 2011 ( see Tr. 156-62). Plaintiff has a high school diploma (Tr. 31). Plaintiff had an in-home daycare business that lasted for about three years, until she allegedly could no longer lift and carry the children because of the pain (Tr. 41-42).

According to the ALJ, plaintiff has at least the severe impairments of degenerative disc disease with scoliosis (20 CFR 416.920(c)) (Tr. 12).

At the time of the hearing, plaintiff was living in a duplex with one of her daughters (Tr. 33).

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff's application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1382(a) (Title XVI) of the Social Security Act was denied initially and following reconsideration ( see Tr. 73-81, 83-92, 93-96, 103-109). Plaintiff's requested hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Scott R. Morris ("the ALJ") on October 15, 2012 ( see Tr. 25-71). On November 7, 2012, the ALJ issued a written decision in which the ALJ concluded that plaintiff was not disabled pursuant to the Social Security Act ( see Tr. 7-24).

In plaintiff's Opening Brief, plaintiff raises the following issues: (1) The ALJ erred in adversely assessing the plaintiff's credibility; (2) The ALJ erred in rejecting the medical opinions of Dr. Beth Liu M.D.; and (3) The ALJ's errors were not harmless ( see ECF No. 11, p. 1).

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), this Court may set aside the Commissioner's denial of social security benefits if the ALJ's findings are based on legal error or not supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole. Bayliss v. Barnhart, 427 F.3d 1211, 1214 n.1 (9th Cir. ...


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