United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
RICHARD A. JONES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Objections to
Magistrate Judge Brian A. Tsuchida's proposed Report and
Recommendations. Dkt. # 19. For the reasons below, it is
ORDERED that the proposed Report and
Recommendations are ADOPTED IN FULL.
seeks judicial review and reversal of the Commissioner's
decision denying his application for Disability Insurance.
Dkt. # 4. This Court has jurisdiction to hear the Complaint
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Due to the nature of
this action, it was referred upon filing to United States
Magistrate Judge Brian A. Tsuchida. Judge Tsuchida entered a
proposed Report and Recommendations, where he recommended the
Commissioner's final decision be affirmed and the case
dismissed with prejudice.
portions of Judge Tsuchida's proposed Report and
Recommendations to which any party objects are reviewed
de novo, otherwise the report is reviewed for clear
error. When proposed findings and recommendations are met
with objection, the Court reviews the relevant portions of
the United States Magistrate Judge's report de
novo. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b). When no party objects,
the Court reviews the report for clear error. McDonnell
Douglas Corp. v. Commodore Bus. Mach., Inc., 656 F.2d
1309, 1313 (9th Cir. 1981). Clear error is present only if
the Court is left with a “definite and firm conviction
that a mistake has been committed.” United States
v. Syrax, 235 F.3d 422, 427 (9th Cir. 2000).
Plaintiff contends (1) that Judge Tsuchida used an incomplete
legal standard in discounting the opinion of the treating
certified physician assistant Mike Meyers; (2) that Judge
Tsuchida improperly discounted Plaintiff's symptom
testimony; and (3) that Judge Tsuchida improperly found the
Administrative Law Judge's RFC to be complete. Dkt. # 19.
Mike Meyers' Opinion
claims that Judge Tsuchida's did not apply the correct
legal standard in concluding that the Administrative Law
Judge (ALJ) provided germane reasons for its treatment of
Myers' opinion. Meyers is not a doctor and thus is not an
“acceptable medical source.” See 20
C.F.R. § 404.1513(a). Accordingly, if the ALJ wishes to
discount the testimony of the lay witnesses, he must give
reasons that are germane to each witness. Dodrill v.
Shalala, 12 F.3d 915, 918-19 (9th Cir. 1993). The
Appeals Council (AC), in adopting the ALJ's opinion,
assigned little weight to Meyers' opinion because (1) his
opinion on Plaintiff's limitations with respect to
sitting, standing, and working were inconsistent with opinion
evidence and treatment records; (2) his opinion contained
insufficient rationale of evidence relied upon to support the
restrictive findings and was inconsistent with evidence
reflecting only mild pitting edema in the lower extremities;
and (3) his opinion concerning limitations related to
Plaintiff's ability to reach, finger, engage in fine
manipulation, bend and stoop lacked a specific quantitative
function-by-function assessment of Plaintiff's
work-related abilities. Dkt. # 8-2 at 6. Plaintiff's
objection that germane reasons for discounting Myers'
opinion is not well-taken and Judge Tsuchida's report and
recommendations on this issue will be adopted.
Plaintiff's Symptom Testimony
claims that Judge Tsuchida improperly discounted
Plaintiff's symptom testimony. The ALJ must provide
specific, clear, and convincing reasons to reject a
claimant's testimony. Burrell v. Colvin, 775
F.3d 1133, 1128 (9th Cir. 2014). “To support a lack of
credibility finding, the ALJ [is] required to point to
specific facts in the record....” Vasquez v.
Astrue, 572 F.3d 586, 592 (9th Cir. 2009). Contrary to
Plaintiff's assertions, the ALJ pointed to numerous
medical visits over several years that undermined
Plaintiff's symptom reports. Dkt. # 8-2 at 144-48.
Moreover, the ALJ referenced evidence of Plaintiff's
activities as contradicting his testimony as to the degree of
his physical and mental impairments. See Turner v.
Commissioner of Social Security, 613 F.3d 1217, 1225
(9th Cir. 2010). The ALJ did not err in his analysis. Judge
Tsuchida's report and recommendations on this issue will
the “maximum degree to which [a claimant] retains the
capacity for sustained performance of the physical-mental
requirements of jobs.” 20 C.F.R. 404, Subpt. P, App. 2
§ 200(c). Even if an ALJ erroneously finds an impairment
to be non-severe, the error is harmless if the ALJ properly
considers the limitations caused by the impairment at the
later steps. Lewis v. Astrue, 498 F.3d 909, 910 (9th
Cir. 2007). Plaintiff claims that the ALJ's RFC did not