Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Maria D. Aguilar v. Michael J. Astrue

December 6, 2011

MARIA D. AGUILAR, 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 rejected Plaintiff's testimony. (JS at 4.)

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 ASSESSED PLAINTIFF'S CREDIBILITY

Plaintiff's sole issue in this litigation is that the ALJ gave legally inadequate reasons in his decision to reject the subjective symptom and pain testimony of the Plaintiff.

Plaintiff suffers from lupus, which the ALJ determined to be a severe impairment. (AR 22.) As a result of this condition she claims disabling joint pain and fatigue. (AR 27, 43-44, 183-189, 224-225, 249-250, 286-287.) Indeed, in her testimony at the hearing before the ALJ (AR 38-63), Plaintiff offered substantial testimony as to her joint pain and related symptoms. (See AR at 46-51.) This included difficulty in holding a pen in her dominant hand; inability to write a page; dropping things held with her dominant hand; difficulty holding on to items; difficulty buttoning buttons with her dominant hand; difficulty opening up jars and doorknobs; difficulty raising her arm to shoulder level; difficulty showering and bathing; difficulty getting dressed; limitation on her ability to do household chores; difficulty sitting for more than an hour or half an hour at a time; difficulty standing; ability to walk for at most 15 minutes; difficulty lifting and carrying items; and pain-related limitations on her social life. (Id.)

In his decision, the ALJ devoted substantial discussion to the issue of Plaintiff's credibility, ultimately determining that Plaintiff's allegations of disabling symptoms are not supported by the evidence of record. (AR 29-30.)

Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ gave inadequate reasons to discount her credibility. Indeed, Plaintiff's view is that the ALJ rejected her credibility because her symptom testimony lacks support in the objective medical evidence, and that his assessment of Plaintiff's ability to do daily activities was incorrect. (See JS at 7-9.) A review of the decision, however, reveals that the ALJ gave far more extensive reasons than Plaintiff credits, and equally important, Plaintiff has not, in this litigation, seriously contradicted the reasons provided.

The ALJ's decision itself sets forth the reasons upon which he relied, and thus, Plaintiff's fear that the justification for the ALJ's rationale depends upon post-hoc reasoning is unfounded.

Certainly, there are elements in the ALJ's analysis which unfavorably compare the extent of Plaintiff claim of limitations due to pain and fatigue with the objective medical evidence. For example, with regard to the claim that she has difficulty holding things and doing tasks such as opening jars, the ALJ noted that she never made such complaints to her treating physicians. (AR 29.) As he noted, Plaintiff primarily complained repeatedly of occasional or intermittent joint pain, and there was no notation of pain in her hands until April 2009. (AR 29, 502.)

Significantly, the ALJ noted that the record is replete with entries that not only was Plaintiff's joint pain intermittent, but it was relieved with such ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.