United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael McShane United States District Judge.
brings this action for judicial review of the
Commissioner's decision denying his application for
disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and
supplemental security income (“SSI”). This court
has jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). On March 17,
2015, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI and DIB,
alleging disability as of December 1, 2013. After a hearing,
the administrative law judge (“ALJ”) determined
that Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social Security Act
from December 1, 2013 through September 7, 2016. Tr.
Plaintiff argues the ALJ erred in giving little weight to the
opinion of a treating psychologist. Because the
Commissioner's decision is based on proper legal
standards and supported by substantial evidence, the
Commissioner's decision is AFFIRMED.
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.
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).
found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform a full range of work at all
exertional levels, but with the following non-exertional
He can understand and remember simple instructions: he has
sufficient concentration, persistence or pace to complete
simple, routine tasks for a normal workday and workweek with
normal breaks; he should have only occasional brief
superficial interactions with the general public and
coworkers; and he is able to accept supervision.
formulating Plaintiff's RFC, the ALJ gave little weight
to the opinion of Dr. Carl Lloyd, Ph.D., Plaintiff's
treating psychologist. Plaintiff argues the ALJ erred in
discounting Dr. Lloy'd opinion.
there exists conflicting medical evidence, the ALJ is charged
with determining credibility and resolving any conflicts.
Chaudhry v. Astrue, 688 F.3d 661, 671 (9th Cir.
2012). When a treating physician's opinion is
contradicted by another medical opinion, the ALJ may reject
the opinion of a treating physician only by providing
“specific and legitimate reasons supported by
substantial evidence in the record.” Orn v.
Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 632 (9th Cir. 2007). Generally, a
treating doctor's opinion is entitled to more weight than
an examining doctor's opinion, which in turn is entitled
to more weight than a reviewing doctor's opinion.
Garrison v. Colvin, 759 F.3d 995, 1012 (9th Cir.
Lloyd treated Plaintiff from April through July 2014, and
again from December 2014 through May 2015. On March 27, 2015,
Dr. Lloyd completed a Mental Impairment Questionnaire, Tr.
746-47, and a Mental RFC Assessment, Tr. 750-750-52. Dr.
Lloyd opined Plaintiff had extreme limitations regarding
maintaining social functioning and in maintaining
concentration, persistence or pace. Tr. 746. Dr. Lloyd
commented, “I doubt that any accommodation or set of
accommodations would permit Ian to ever work in
setting which required ATTN, social
interactions etc.” Tr. 746 (emphasis in original).
Dr. Lloyd concluded Plaintiff's attention and
concentration would be impaired approximately 95% of the time
to such a degree that Plaintiff could not be expected to
perform even simple work tasks. Tr. 747 (even “simple
tasks would prove unbearable for [Plaintiff].”).
relevant here, Dr. Lloyd concluded Plaintiff would have
severe limitations with: ability to maintain attention and
concentration for at least two straight hours with at least
four such sessions in a workday; ability to work in
coordination with or proximity to others without being
distracted, ability to complete a normal workday and work
week without interruptions from psychologically based
symptoms and to perform at a constant pace without
unreasonable number and length of rests; ability to interact
appropriately with the general public or customers; ability
to accept instructions and respond appropriately to criticism
from supervisors; ability to get along with coworkers or
peers without distracting them or exhibiting behavioral
extremes; and ability to maintain socially appropriate