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Wang v. Astrue

January 7, 2009

JEAN S. WANG, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: VICTOR B. Kenton United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

(Social Security Case)

This matter is before the Court for review of the decision by the Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff's application for disability benefits. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §636(c), the parties have consented that the case may be handled by the Magistrate Judge. The action arises under 42 U.S.C. §405(g), which authorizes the Court to enter judgment upon the pleadings and transcript of the record before the Commissioner. The parties have filed the Joint Stipulation ("JS"), and the Commissioner has filed the certified Administrative Record ("AR").

Plaintiff raises the following issue: Whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly considered the testimony provided by Plaintiff (as to her subjective symptoms).

This Memorandum Opinion will constitute the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law. After reviewing the matter, the Court concludes that the decision of the Commissioner must be affirmed.

I. THE ALJ DID NOT ERR IN DEPRECIATING PLAINTIFF'S CREDIBILITY

Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ erred by depreciating Plaintiff's credibility as to her subjective symptoms. Indeed, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's written statements and reports regarding her symptoms and their impact on her ability to work were not entirely credible. (AR 54.) Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ did not offer a single legally sufficient reason to reject Plaintiff's testimony and that it was improper for the ALJ to rely only upon the perceived conflict between the objective medical evidence and Plaintiff's self-described limitations, along with an analysis of her activities of daily living ("ADL"), in order to reach the credibility conclusion. (See JS at 8.)

In the ALJ's decision, the reasons that he relies upon to depreciate credibility are clearly stated. These include the following:

1. Plaintiff appears to overstate her symptoms and limitations;

2. While Plaintiff testified that she experiences constant intolerable pain in her face, head and neck, her doctors have reported some improvement of her pain symptoms with the use of the TENS unit; however, in August 2004 Plaintiff reported that she only sometimes uses the device;

3. Plaintiff's testimony that she is depressed and feels sad all of the time is in conflict with her statement to Dr. Bloch in August 2004 that she felt improvement in her mental health symptoms and requested that her psychotherapy be decreased to only twice a month (see August 5, 2004 report of consulting psychiatric physician Dr. Bloch, AR 1064);

4. Dr. Brown, the medical expert ("ME") testified at the hearing that Plaintiff's complaints are disproportionate to the medical conditions described in the records;

5. Plaintiff's ADL's, as reported, are inconsistent with her assertion of disability;

6. Plaintiff's credibility is reduced by her failure to seek regular and ...


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