United States District Court, D. Oregon
M. COFFIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
brings this proceeding to obtain judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision denying plaintiff s
application for disability insurance benefits and
supplemental insurance benefits.
found that plaintiff had the severe impairments of history of
post traumatic stress disorder with depression and anxiety.
originally alleged an onset date of disability (AOD) as
February 4, 2013. At the hearing before the ALJ, plaintiff
amended the AOD to a few months earlier, November 24, 2012,
which is the date she last worked.
was 28 years old on the AOD. She had worked as a fast food
worker, a sales clerk and stocker, a restaurant manager, and
a customer service representative.
ruled that plaintiff could not perform her past relevant
work, but that she could work in such representative fields
as a garment bagger, collator, and assembly machine tender.
Plaintiff contends that the ALJ erred in rejecting the
opinions of the examining psychologist, the treating
physician and the treating counselor. Plaintiff also contends
that the ALJ erred in the assessment of plaintiff's
testimony and that defendant did not meet its burden at Step
of 5 of the sequential analysis.
Assessing the Medical Evidence
examining psychologist, the treating physician and the
treating counselor all provided materials and all ultimately
opined that plaintiff's symptoms precluded her from
working. The ALJ gave no weight to any of the opinions.
psychologist Dr. Truhn had a lengthy clinical interview with
plaintiff, did a mental status examination, supervised
testing and reviewed the entirety of her medical records. One
of the primary reasons provided by the ALJ for rejecting his
opinion was Dr. Truhn reporting that two parts of the testing
were deemed invalid based on plaintiff's responses. The
On Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory -2-RE, Dr.
Truhn reported that the claimant's profile or results
were invalid. There was over-reporting indicated by excessive
number of infrequent responses; she had an unusual
combination of responses that were reported to be associated
with noncredible reporting or somatic symptoms. Similarly, on
the Million Clinical Multiaxial Inventory -III, Dr. Truhn
reported that the claimant's scores were invalid. Her
test results showed that claimant had a broad tendency to magnify
the level of experienced illness or a characterological
inclination to be complaining or self-pitying. Interestingly,
Truhn chose not to further interpret these test results or
profiles; he just chose to interpret these test results as a
cry for help or additional psychopathology. This raises some
overall credibility issues as Dr. Truhn performed this
evaluation at the request of claimant's attorney, and
those areas that appear unfavorable to her overall profile
appear to have been gleaned over quickly or ignored.
Truhn, however, appears to do somewhat more than glean the
material over quickly or ignore it. Dr. Truhn cites the
manuals that were used in interpreting the results, Tr. 435
and Tr. 436, and states that it is possible that
plaintiff's possible histrionic and borderline
personality features were instrumental in her response style
on testing, consistent with her history of abusive and
tumultuous relationships and requiring attention and
affection from others. Tr. 438. Dr. Truhn also said there was
an indication of a pain disorder or somatic complaints in the
test results, that could be reflective of additional
psychopathology. Id. Dr. Truhn noted that the high
scores may indicate a cry for help, or an effort to ensure
that others are aware of her symptoms. Id. Dr. Truhn
also noted that another explanation was that plaintiff was
exaggerating symptoms intentionally for benefit of services
or other secondary gain. Id. However, he noted that
none of the medical records reported any concerns of
malingering or exaggeration of symptoms. Id.
on Dr. Truhn's opinion and its handling by the ALJ, there
appears to be either ambiguous evidence or the record is
inadequate to allow for proper evaluation which triggers the
duty to further develop the record. Mayes v.
Massinari, 276 F.3d 453, 460 (9th Cir. 2010);
McLeod v. ...