United States District Court, D. Oregon
JEANNETTE R. CHACE, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
A. HERNANDEZ UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Judge Acosta issued a Findings and Recommendation  on
July 11, 2017, in which he recommends that this Court affirm
the Commissioner's decision to deny Supplemental Security
Income and Disability Insurance Benefits to Plaintiff
Jeannette Chace. The matter is now before the Court pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Federal Rule of Civil
filed timely objections to the Magistrate Judge's
Findings and Recommendation (“F&R”). When any
party objects to any portion of the Magistrate Judge's
F&R, the district court must make a de novo
determination of that portion of the Magistrate Judge's
report. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Dawson v.
Marshall, 561 F.3d 930, 932 (9th Cir. 2009); United
States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114, 1121 (9th Cir.
2003) (en banc).
raises the following objections to the F&R: (1)
“[Judge Acosta] did not consider the record as a whole
when recommending that the ALJ's serious errors were
harmless, ” and (2) “Activities of Daily Living
engaged in by [Plaintiff] do not discredit PA-C
Pickering[']s opinion nor the credibility of
contends that Judge Acosta erred by upholding the ALJ's
decision to discount Physician Assistant Pickering's
opinion based on one germane reason, while simultaneously
rejecting the ALJ's other two reasons. Plaintiff's
argument is unavailing.
assigned “some weight” to Ms. Pickering's
opinion, but found that her records did not support the
alleged degree of limitation. Tr. 26. The ALJ discounted Ms.
Pickering's opinion because it conflicted with
Plaintiff's “relatively active lifestyle.”
Id. The ALJ also noted that Ms. Pickering is not an
“acceptable medical source” under Social Security
regulations and that the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) addressed “many of these
Acosta agreed with Plaintiff that the ALJ's findings as
to the RFC were “vague and not legally
sufficient.” F&R 9, ECF 23. He also agreed that the
fact that Ms. Pickering is not an “acceptable medical
source” is not a reason to discredit her opinion.
Id. at 9-10. However, Judge Acosta found that the
conflict between Ms. Pickering's opinion and
Plaintiff's active lifestyle was a germane reason to
reject Ms. Pickering's opinion that Plaintiff would miss
four or more days of work per month. Id. at 10.
Ninth Circuit has provided guidance regarding how a reviewing
court should proceed after determining that some of an
ALJ's reasons for discounting an opinion are invalid:
The relevant inquiry in this context is not whether the ALJ
would have made a different decision absent any error . . .
it is whether the ALJ's decision remains legally valid,
despite such error.
Carmickle v. Comm'r, Soc. Sec. Admin., 533 F.3d
1155, 1162 (9th Cir. 2008). Even if some of the ALJ's
reasons are legally insufficient, as long as the ALJ's
remaining reason and ultimate determination are adequately
supported by substantial evidence in the record, the
ALJ's decision should be affirmed. Id.; see
also Valentine v. Comm'r Soc. Sec. Admin., 574 F.3d
685, 694 (9th Cir. 2009) (upholding ALJ's rejection of
lay witness testimony because, even though two of the
ALJ's reasons were not legally sufficient, the ALJ
provided one germane reason); Moles v. Berryhill,
No. 3:15-CV-02143-JE, 2017 WL 2225577, at *4 (D. Or. May 22,
2017) (“If substantial evidence supports the ALJ's
determination, it must be upheld, even if some of the reasons
cited by the ALJ are not correct.”). Contrary to
Plaintiff's assertion, it does not matter whether
“the ALJ would necessarily reach the same result on
remand.” Carmickle, 533 F.3d at 1163 n.4.
Judge Acosta conducted the proper inquiry and found that,
notwithstanding the ALJ's citation of some invalid
reasons, the ALJ's decision to discount Ms.
Pickering's opinion was justified by a germane reason
supported by substantial evidence.
also objects to the ALJ's reliance on Plaintiff's
daily activities to discount Ms. Pickering's opinion and
Plaintiff's credibility. According to Plaintiff, her
ability to engage in her activities of daily living is not
equivalent to an ability to work a full-time schedule.
Plaintiff does not point to any specific daily activity that
was erroneously analyzed. This Court independently reviewed
evidence in the record of Plaintiff's daily activities
and concludes that Judge Acosta correctly upheld the
ALJ's decision. The Court also reviewed the pertinent
portions of the record de novo and finds no other
errors in the Magistrate Judge's F&R.
Court adopts Magistrate Judge Acosta's F&R .
Accordingly, the Commissioner's ...