United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
DION X. ADAMS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner of Social Security for Operations, Defendant.
C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's objections
(Dkt. No. 14) to U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa L.
Fricke's report and recommendation
(“R&R”) (Dkt. No. 13). Having thoroughly
considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record,
the Court finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby
OVERRULES Plaintiff's objections, ADOPTS Judge
Fricke's R&R, and AFFIRMS Defendant's decision to
deny benefits for the reasons explained herein.
March 11, 2014, Plaintiff applied for Supplemental Security
Income (“SSI”) for impairments he claimed to
experience as of December 1, 2008. (Dkt. No. 8-2 at 16.)
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Kimberly Boyce
acknowledged that Plaintiff “has the following severe
impairments: degenerative disc disease; degenerative joint
disease; loss of visual acuity; depressive disorder; anxiety
disorder; [and] trauma and stressor related
disorders/post-traumatic stress disorder.”
(Id. at 19.) The ALJ applied the five-step
evaluation process outlined in 20 C.F.R § 416.920(a) to
determine whether Plaintiff is disabled. (See Id. at
17-18.) The ALJ determined that Plaintiff's impairments
did not reach the severity level required for disability.
(Id. at 20.) The ALJ further found that Plaintiff
has a residual functional capacity to perform “light
work” and that Plaintiff could perform a number of
“jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national
economy.” (Id. at 22, 28.) Based on these
findings, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff is not disabled,
rendering him ineligible for SSI benefits. (See Id.
sought judicial review of the ALJ's decision. (Dkt. No.
13 at 1.) Judge Fricke's R&R agrees with the
ALJ's decision, and recommends affirming Defendant's
decision to deny benefits. (Id. at 10.) Plaintiff
has filed objections to Judge Fricke's R&R. (Dkt. No.
Standard of Review
Court reviews objections to a magistrate judge's report
and recommendation de novo. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1) (2018). The Court “may accept, reject,
or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or
recommendations made by the magistrate judge.”
Conflicting Evidence and Credibility of Medical
objects to the R&R primarily because it affirms the
ALJ's decision to give “significant weight”
to state agency physicians' opinions, while giving
“very little weight” to the opinion of Dr. Jenny
Abrams, Plaintiff's treating physician. (See
Dkt. No. 14; see also Dkt. No. 8-2 at 25-27.) The
state agency physicians “describe a more benign view of
[P]laintiff's limitations” than does Dr. Abrams.
(Dkt. No. 13 at 5.) The ALJ found that Dr. Abrams'
opinion “conflicts with the record throughout the
period at issue which consistently shows normal
functionality.” (Dkt. No. 8-2 at 26.) Plaintiff claims
that the R&R “failed to show that the ALJ gave
specific, legitimate reasons” for determining the
relative credibility of the medical opinions by failing to
cite to the record and by incorrectly interpreting some of
the medical evidence. (See Dkt. No. 14 at 7.)
Fricke cited to the record to demonstrate the conflict
between Dr. Abrams' opinion and the medical evidence.
(See Dkt. No. 13 at 6-9.) Judge Fricke recognized
that when evidence elicits more than one rational
interpretation, the Court should uphold the ALJ's
interpretation. Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630
(9th Cir. 2007). When there are conflicts in medical
testimony, the ALJ is tasked with deciding the relative
credibility. Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 722
(9th Cir. 1998). If a medical opinion is “inadequately
supported by clinical findings” the ALJ need not accept
that opinion. Tonapetyan v. Halter, 242 F.3d 1144,
1149 (9th Cir. 2001). The ALJ properly weighed the evidence
before her and cited the record in support of her conclusion.
(Dkt. No. 8-2 at 18-28.) Thus, Judge Fricke correctly
approved the ALJ's interpretation of the medical evidence
and decision to assign greater credibility to state agency
physicians' opinions over Dr. Abrams'.
foregoing reasons, the Court OVERRULES Plaintiff's
objections (Dkt. No. 14) and ADOPTS Judge Fricke's report
and recommendation. (Dkt. No. 13.) Defendant's decision
to deny Plaintiff SSI benefits is AFFIRMED. The Clerk is