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Tanner v. Astrue

February 13, 2009

DOUGLAS TANNER, 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 issues:

1. Whether the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") properly considered the consultative psychiatrist's evaluation ("CE");

2. Whether the ALJ properly considered the severity of Plaintiff's mental impairment;

3. Whether the ALJ properly explained why Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or equal a Listing; and

4. Whether the ALJ posed a complete hypothetical question to the vocational expert.

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 PROPERLY CONSIDERED THE CONSULTATIVE PSYCHIATRIST'S EVALUATION

On August 7, 2004, at the request of the Department of Social Services, Plaintiff received a complete psychiatric CE from Dr. Parikh. (AR 145-151.) Dr. Parikh's conclusions are primarily set forth in that part of his report under the heading "Assessment." (AR 150.) As set forth therein, Dr. Parikh assessed the following:

"At this time, from a psychiatric standpoint, [Plaintiff] might have some impairment in the ability to reason and make social, occupational, and personal adjustments.

From a psychiatric standpoint, [Plaintiff] is able to understand, carryout [sic], and remember simple instructions. [Plaintiff] can follow complex instructions. [Plaintiff] could not interact appropriately with co-workers because of his paranoia. [Plaintiff] should be able to respond appropriately to the usual work settings in such matters as attendance and would not have a hard time adjusting to changes in the work routine." (Id.)

Plaintiff's assessment of error is that the ALJ essentially disregarded these relevant portions of Dr. Parikh's evaluation. (JS at 3, citing AR 17.) In particular, Plaintiff believes the ALJ erred by failing to mention his impaired ability to reason and make social, occupational and personal adjustments, or ...


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