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Thompson v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

September 22, 2014

JUSTIN FORD THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

JAMES A. REDDEN, Sr., District Judge.

Plaintiff Justin Thompson brings this action to obtain judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("Commissioner") denying his claim for child's insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. ยงยง 401-34. For the reasons set forth below, the decision of the Commissioner is affirmed and this matter is dismissed.

BACKGROUND

Thompson filed his application in February 2010, alleging disability since January 1, 2010, due to Asperger's syndrome, depression, and social anxiety disorder. Tr. 74. Thompson was 18 years old on his alleged onset date. His application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. A hearing was held on February 8, 2012. Tr. 38-73. The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") found him not disabled. Thompson's request for review was denied, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.

ALJ's DECISION

The ALJ found Thompson had the medically determinable severe impairments of anxiety disorder, not otherwise specified; Asperger's disorder by history; and a history of depression. Tr. 23-24.

The ALJ found that Thompson's impairments did not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, App. 1. Id.

The ALJ determined that Thompson retained the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels, but with non-exertional, mental limitations, including limitation to simple, repetitive tasks, he cannot perform work that requires working in concert with others in order to perform the job duties, and he cannot perform work that requires public contact. Tr. 26-31.

At step five, the ALJ found Thompson was capable of performing other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy. Tr. 31-32.

Thompson argues that the ALJ erred by: (1) finding him not fully credible; (2) failing to properly consider the medical evidence; (3) improperly rejecting lay testimony.

DISCUSSION

I. Credibility

The ALJ is responsible for determining credibility, resolving conflicts in medical testimony, and for resolving ambiguities. Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 1995). However, the ALJ's findings must be supported by specific, cogent reasons. Reddick v. Chafer, 157 F.3d 715, 722 (9th Cir. 1998). Unless there is affirmative evidence showing that the claimant is malingering, the Commissioner's reason for rejecting the claimant's testimony must be "clear and convincing." Id. The ALJ must identify what testimony is not credible and what evidence undermines the claimant's complaints. Id. The evidence upon which the ALJ relies must be substantial. Reddick, 157 F.3d at 724. See also Holohan v. Aiassinari, 246 F.3d 1195, 1208 (9th Cir. 2001). General findings (e.g., "record in general" indicates improvement) are an insufficient basis to support an adverse credibility determination. Reddick at 722. See also Holohan, 246 F.3d at 1208. The ALJ must make a credibility determination with findings sufficiently specific to permit the court to conclude that the ALJ did not arbitrarily discredit the claimant's testimony. Thomas v. Bamharl, 278 F.3d 947, 958 (9th Cir. 2002).

In deciding whether to accept a claimant's subjective symptom testimony, "an ALJ must perform two stages of analysis: the Collon analysis and an analysis of the credibility of the claimant's testimony regarding the severity of her symptoms." [Footnote ...


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