Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Lambert v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Oregon

July 31, 2017

DOROTHY YVONNE LAMBERT, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Michael McShane United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Dorothy Yvonne Lambert brings this action for judicial review of the Commissioner's decision denying her application for supplemental security income (“SSI”). This court has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3).

         On September 14, 2012, Lambert filed an application for SSI. After a hearing, the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) determined Lambert was not disabled under the Social Security Act. Tr. 30.[1] Lambert argues the ALJ erred in finding her less-than credible and in rejecting the opinion of Kaitlin Haws, Lambert's treating nurse practitioner (“NP”). Because the Commissioner's decision is based on proper legal standards and supported by substantial evidence, the Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The reviewing court shall affirm the Commissioner's decision if the decision is based on proper legal standards and the legal findings are supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Batson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004). “Substantial evidence is ‘more than a mere scintilla but less than a preponderance; it is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'” Hill v. Astrue, 698 F.3d 1153, 1159 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Sandgathe v. Chater, 108 F.3d 978, 980 (9th Cir. 1997)). To determine whether substantial evidence exists, we review the administrative record as a whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and that which detracts from the ALJ's conclusion. Davis v. Heckler, 868 F.2d 323, 326 (9th Cir. 1989). “If the evidence can reasonably support either affirming or reversing, ‘the reviewing court may not substitute its judgment' for that of the Commissioner.” Gutierrez v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec. Admin., 740 F.3d 519, 523 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720-21 (9th Cir. 1996)).

         DISCUSSION

         The Social Security Administration utilizes a five-step sequential evaluation to determine whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520 & 416.920 (2012). The initial burden of proof rests upon the claimant to meet the first four steps. If the claimant satisfies his burden with respect to the first four steps, the burden shifts to the Commissioner for step five. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. At step five, the Commissioner must show that the claimant is capable of making an adjustment to other work after considering the claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC), age, education, and work experience. Id. If the Commissioner fails to meet this burden, then the claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(v); 416.920(a)(4)(v). If, however, the Commissioner proves that the claimant is able to perform other work existing in significant numbers in the national economy, the claimant is not disabled. Bustamante v. Massanari, 262 F.3d 949, 953-54 (9th Cir. 2001).

         The ALJ concluded Lambert suffered from severe impairments of carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (“COPD”), and bipolar disorder. Tr. 23. At the hearing, Lambert testified her COPD posed the most severe limitations in her ability to work full-time, but that severe depression left her unable to get out of bed for several days at a time a couple of times each month. The ALJ found Lambert less-than fully credible regarding the extent of her self-reported limitations and, after weighing the medical evidence and opinions, concluded Lambert possessed the RFC to perform light work while sitting up to 8 hours in an 8 hour work day and standing and walking for 2 hours in that day. The vocational expert opined someone with Lambert's RFC as constructed by the ALJ could perform several jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy. Therefore, the ALJ concluded Lambert was not disabled under the act.

         As noted above, Lambert argues the ALJ erred in finding her less-than fully credible and in rejecting the opinion of her treating NP. I turn first to the ALJ's adverse credibility finding.

         At the September 10, 2014 hearing, Lambert testified to severe limitations. For example, Lambert testified she could not walk the five blocks from the bus stop to the clinic. Tr. 42. On days when she did not have to go to the clinic to get methadone, Lambert would “hang out around the apartment” because she could no longer walk. Tr. 43 (“I try doing-I tried walking and I just can't. Like a block my back is just hurting so bad, and I can't breathe right. So, I cut that out. So, I pretty much don't do anything.”). Lambert testified her COPD was her most serious condition as she was “short of breath all the time.” Tr. 47.

         Lambert stated she suffered from “crippling” migraine headaches a couple times a week that last a day or two. Tr. 49-50. When medicine did not relieve the migraines, Lambert had to lie down in a dark room with a washcloth on her forehead. Tr. 50. Most of the time, medicine did not relieve the migraines. Tr. 51. Lambert also was bedridden for a couple of days at a time due to severe depression. Tr. 51. These bouts of depression occurred once or twice each month, lasting on average four days per occurrence. Tr. 51.

         The ALJ is not “required to believe every allegation of disabling pain, or else disability benefits would be available for the asking, a result plainly contrary to 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(5)(A).” Molina v. Astrue, 674 F.3d 1104, 1112 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Fair v. Bowen, 885 F.2d 597, 603 (9th Cir.1989)). The ALJ “may consider a wide range of factors in assessing credibility.” Ghanim v. Colvin, 12-35804, 2014 WL 4056530, at *7 (9th Cir. Aug. 18, 2014). These factors can include “ordinary techniques of credibility evaluation, ” id., as well as:

(1) whether the claimant engages in daily activities inconsistent with the alleged symptoms; (2) whether the claimant takes medication or undergoes other treatment for the symptoms; (3) whether the claimant fails to follow, without adequate explanation, a prescribed course of treatment; and (4) whether the alleged symptoms are consistent with the medical evidence.

Lingenfelter v. Astrue, 504 F.3d 1028, 1040 (9th Cir.2007). The ALJ in this case supported his credibility determination with references to several ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.