United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER AFFIRMING DEFENDANT'S DECISION TO DENY
W. CHRISTEL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Deanna Mattison filed this action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), for judicial review of Defendant's denial
of Plaintiff's applications for supplemental security
income (“SSI”) and disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c),
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73 and Local Rule MJR 13, the
parties have consented to have this matter heard by the
undersigned Magistrate Judge. See Dkt. 14.
considering the record, the Court concludes the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) properly
analyzed the medical opinion evidence and Plaintiff's
credibility. As the ALJ's decision finding Plaintiff not
disabled is supported by substantial evidence, the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed pursuant to sentence
four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
November 1, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI and
DIB, alleging disability as of October 31, 2013. See
Dkt. 15, Administrative Record (“AR.”) 196-203,
217. The application was denied upon initial administrative
review and on reconsideration. See AR. 144-46,
159-60. A hearing was held before ALJ Kelly Wilson on July
10, 2015. See AR. 28. In a decision dated August 28,
2015, the ALJ determined Plaintiff to be not disabled.
See AR. 28-401. Plaintiff's request for review
of the ALJ's decision was denied by the Appeals Council
on October 12, 2016, making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner. See AR. 1-4; 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.981, § 416.1481.
Plaintiff's Opening Brief, Plaintiff maintains the ALJ
erred by failing to: (1) fully consider medical evidence
relating to Plaintiff's physical limitations; (2) provide
clear and convincing reasons for rejecting Plaintiff's
testimony; (3) properly evaluate Plaintiff's RFC; and 4)
meet the burden of showing there were other jobs in the
national economy Plaintiff could perform. Dkt. 17, p. 2.
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. 2005)
(citing Tidwell v. Apfel, 161 F.3d 599, 601 (9th
Whether the ALJ properly weighed the medical
must provide “clear and convincing” reasons for
rejecting the uncontradicted opinion of either a treating or
examining physician. Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821,
830 (9th Cir. 1996) (citing Embrey v. Bowen, 849
F.2d 418, 422 (9th Cir. 1988); Pitzer v. Sullivan,
908 F.2d 502, 506 (9th Cir. 1990)). When a treating or
examining physician's opinion is contradicted, the
opinion can be rejected “for specific and legitimate
reasons that are supported by substantial evidence in the
record.” Lester, 81 F.3d at 830-31 (citing
Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1043 (9th Cir. 1995);
Murray v. Heckler, 722 F.2d 499, 502 (9th Cir.
1983)). The ALJ can accomplish this by “setting out a
detailed and thorough summary of the facts and conflicting
clinical evidence, stating his interpretation thereof, and
making findings.” Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d
715, 725 (9th Cir. 1998) (citing Magallanes v.
Bowen, 881 F.2d 747, 751 (9th Cir. 1989)). In doing so,
the ALJ “has an independent ‘duty to fully and
fairly develop the record and to assure that the
claimant's interests are considered.'”
Tonapetyan v. Halter, 242 F.3d 1144, 1150 (9th Cir.
2001) (quoting Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1288
(9th Cir. 1996).
examiner, Dr. James Symonds, M.D., conducted a thorough
examination and clinical interview with Plaintiff on February
19, 2014. AR. 367-372. Dr. Symonds noted Plaintiff's
history of low back pain, right wrist pain, right knee pain,
neck and suprascapular pain, and left fourth finger pain. AR.
367-68. He further found Plaintiff had postural limitations
of stooping, kneeling and crouching, and manipulative
limitations of reaching with the bilateral shoulders. AR.
372. Based on his assessment, Dr. Symonds opined that
Plaintiff could perform light work such as, “lift[ing]
and carry[ing] 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds
frequently[, ] stand[ing] and walk[ing] for 6 hours in an
eight hour day[, and] sit[ting] for 6 hours in an eight hour
day.” Id. Reviewing physician, Dr. Charles
Wolfe, M.D. affirmed Dr. Symonds' conclusions, also
opining that Plaintiff has a maximum sustained work
capability for performing light work. AR. 124.
gave little weight to Drs. Symonds and Wolfe's opinions
finding they were inconsistent (1) with Plaintiff's
testimony regarding her limitations; and (2) with
Plaintiff's activities of daily living. AR. 37.
the ALJ assigned little weight to these opinions because
Plaintiff “did not make any allegations of significant
physical or manipulative limitations in either her
application materials [or] at the hearing.”AR. 37
(citing AR. 27-76, 46-82). Plaintiff concedes this to be true
but also contends that “she did indicate in her
Function Report that she experienced back and knee pain as
well as tendonitis in her wrists.” Dkt. 17, p.6
(citing, TAR at 6 (sic)). While Plaintiff's historic
physical limitations may appear in a function report, the ALJ
correctly indicated that Plaintiff's application
materials and hearing transcript do not include these
impairments. See AR. ...