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Buck v. Colvin

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

September 16, 2014

GAVIN LEE BUCK, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ORDER AFFIRMING THE COMMISSIONER

JOHN C. COUGHENOUR, District Judge.

The Court, having reviewed Plaintiff's complaint (Dkt. No. 4), the Report and Recommendation of the Honorable Mary Alice Theiler, United States Magistrate Judge (Dkt. No. 25), Plaintiff's objections to the Report and Recommendation (Dkt. No. 26), Defendant's response to Plaintiff's objections (Dkt. No. 27), and the remainder of the record, does hereby ADOPT the Report and Recommendation (Dkt. No. 25) and AFFIRM the decision of the Commissioner.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed a claim for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") in September 2008 and protectively filed an application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") in August 2008, alleging disability beginning March 1, 2008. His applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Plaintiff timely requested a hearing, which was granted. On September 29, 2009, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") issued a decision finding Plaintiff not disabled.

Plaintiff timely appealed. The Appeals Council denied review on June 23, 2010, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. Plaintiff appealed, and on June 28, 2011, United States Magistrate Judge Karen Strombom remanded the matter for further consideration. Judge Strombom found error in the consideration of one medical opinion and in the failure to call a vocational expert.

On remand, the ALJ held a second hearing. On May 17, 2013, the ALJ issued a second decision. The ALJ found that Plaintiff had a variety of severe impairments, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, and personality disorder. Despite the impairments, the ALJ found Plaintiff capable of working in a variety of jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy. For that reason, the ALJ concluded Plaintiff was not disabled.

Plaintiff sought review by the Appeals Council, which was denied on November 7, 2013. He appealed the Commissioner's final decision. On July 3, 2014 Magistrate Judge Mary Alice Theiler issued her Report and Recommendation that the ALJ's decision be affirmed. (Dkt. No. 25.) Plaintiff objects to the Report and Recommendation. (Dkt. No. 26.)

II. DISCUSSION

The district court must make a de novo determination of those portions of a magistrate judge's report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which a party objects. 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b)(1). Plaintiff raises a number of objections to the Report and Recommendation.

The first objections relate to the ALJ's assessment of Plaintiff's impairments. Plaintiff argues that the ALJ failed to specify the type of personality disorder Plaintiff suffered from, and failed to properly account for this disorder in assessing plaintiff's ability to perform basic work activities. Plaintiff further argues that the ALJ erred in failing to account for the limitations caused by his severe conditions.

It is true that the ALJ did not specify the particular type of personality disorder Plaintiff suffered from. However, the ALJ was aware of Plaintiff's symptoms, and there is no indication that greater specificity would have altered the ALJ's assessment. Consequently, the objection to the lack of greater specificity is without merit.

Plaintiff's argument that the ALJ did not properly account for plaintiff's personality disorder in determining whether plaintiff was capable of working is also unavailing. The ALJ considered all of Plaintiff's symptoms in reaching the determination that plaintiff is not disabled. See Dkt. 25 at 6. A finding of a severe medical condition does not necessitate identification of corresponding limitations on the ability to work. Bray v. Comm'r of SSA, 554 F.3d 1219, 1228-29 (9th Cir. 2009). It was therefore within the ALJ's discretion to find that Plaintiff could work despite his severe impairments.

Next, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ inappropriately discounted medical testimony.

The ALJ discounted the opinion of Dr. Shawn Kenderdine, who assessed a number of marked limitations in Plaintiff's cognitive and social functioning. See Dkt. 25 at 7. He did so for a number of reasons, including the fact that Dr. Kenderdine appeared to base his opinion on plaintiff's subjective report, at least in part. Because the ALJ had determined that Plaintiff has limited credibility, this was a permissible reason to discount ...


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