United States District Court, D. Oregon
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL W. MOSMAN CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
6, 2019, Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman issued her
Findings and Recommendation ("F&R") ,
recommending that the Commissioner's decision be REVERSED
and this case be REMANDED for an award of benefits. The
Commissioner objected to that F&R , and Plaintiff
responded to that objection .
appealed from the ALJ's denial of her disability claim
that was based on PTSD, anxiety, and depression . Judge
Beckerman found that the ALJ improperly discounted Plaintiffs
testimony about her symptoms and improperly discounted
testimony from Plaintiffs treating psychologist, Dr. Nelson
. However, Judge Beckerman found that one of the four
reasons the ALJ gave for discounting Plaintiffs testimony was
legally valid. The Commissioner objected , arguing that
because the ALJ had provided a valid reason to discount
Plaintiffs testimony, any other error was harmless. Plaintiff
responded  that the ALJ did not, in fact, give any valid
reason for discounting Plaintiffs credibility.
discussed further below, I agree with the Commissioner's
argument and affirm the ALJ's decision.
magistrate judge makes only recommendations to the court, to
which any party may file written objections. The court is not
bound by the recommendations of the magistrate judge, but
retains responsibility for making the final determination.
The court is generally required to make a de novo
determination regarding those portions of the report or
specified findings or recommendation as to which an objection
is made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). However, the court is
not required to review, de novo or under any other standard,
the factual or legal conclusions of the magistrate judge as
to those portions of the F&R to which no objections are
addressed. See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149
(1985); United States v. Reyna-Tapia, 328 F.3d 1114,
1121 (9th Cir. 2003). While the level of scrutiny under which
I am required to review the F&R depends on whether or not
objections have been filed, in either case, I am free to
accept, reject, or modify any part of the F&R. 28 U.S.C.
any error by the ALJ in discounting the testimony from
Plaintiff or from Dr. Nelson amounted to harmless error.
See Batson v. Comm 'r. Soc. Security Admin., 359
P.3d 1190, 1197 (9th Cir. 2004) (applying harmless error
principles to ALJ's credibility findings). In a
disability case, an ALJ may discount the credibility of a
claimant's testimony about her symptoms if the ALJ
provides "clear and convincing reasons" for finding
the claimant's testimony not credible. See, e.g.,
Smolen v. Chater, 80 F.3d 1273, 1284 (9th Cir. 1996)
(stating standard). Judge Beckerman found, and I agree, that
the ALJ in this case provided a clear and convincing reason
to find that Plaintiffs testimony was not credible-she
engaged in daily activities that belied the severity of the
symptoms she claimed to have. Where Judge Beckerman and I
depart, however, is the effect we give to the other, arguably
invalid, reasons the ALJ gave for discounting Plaintiffs
ALJ provides several reasons for discounting Plaintiffs
testimony about her claimed symptoms or limitations, and on
review most of those reasons are invalidated, the remaining
step of the analysis is to determine whether any valid,
"clear and convincing" reasons are sufficient, by
themselves, to support a negative credibility finding. Here,
for example, the record provides one valid reason to discount
plaintiffs testimony about her symptoms: its inconsistency
with her activities of daily living. The Commissioner argues
that this valid reason for discounting Plaintiffs symptom
testimony independently provides a "clear and convincing
reason" for finding Plaintiffs testimony not credible,
regardless of whether the ALJ's other reasons were valid.
I agree. Because this credibility finding provides a legally
valid basis to discount Plaintiffs testimony, any error by
the ALJ in evaluating Plaintiffs testimony was harmless.
Carmickle v. Comm'r. Soc. Security Admin., 533
F.3d 1155, 1162-63 (9th Cir. 2008).
Dr. Nelson's testimony, I agree with the Commissioner
that the ALJ's credibility finding was not error. An ALJ
may reject the opinion of a treating physician if he has
"specific and legitimate reasons" for doing so.
See, e.g., Buck v. Berryhill, 869 F.3d 1040, 1050
(9th Cir. 2017) (stating standard). Here, the ALJ found that
the "daily activities described by the claimant,
particularly the ability to care for an infant child three or
more days per week, bely the level of functional limitation
suggested by Dr. Nelson." Obj. to Findings and
Recommendation, at 3 (citing to Tr. 21). That reasoning
relies on the same daily activities that provided a legal
basis to discount Plaintiffs testimony. Given that this
reasoning meets the "clear and convincing"
standard, it also meets the "specific and
legitimate" standard. The ALJ therefore did not err.
the ALJ did not en- in his credibility findings as to Dr.
Nelson, and any error in his credibility findings as to
Plaintiff was harmless. Therefore, I do not agree with Judge
Beckerman's recommendation and I DECLINE TO ADOPT the
F&R  in full. I AFFIRM the Commissioner's