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Jabari Clever Black v. Michael J. Astrue

January 23, 2012

JABARI CLEVER BLACK, 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") erred as a matter of law by failing to properly assess Plaintiff's credibility (JS at 3);

2. Whether the ALJ erred as a matter of law by failing to properly assess the witness testimony (JS at 9); and

3. Whether the ALJ erred as a matter of law by failing to pose a complete hypothetical question (JS at 14).

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 CORRECTLY ASSESSED PLAINTIFF'S CREDIBILITY In his Decision (AR 15-23), the ALJ made a negative credibility assessment of Plaintiff's testimony. (AR 19-21.) After laying out the applicable factors identified in Social Security Ruling ("SSR") 96-7p, the ALJ determined that the following credibility factors were particularly applicable:

"... whether the person has a pecuniary interest in the outcome of the hearing or may otherwise be motivated by secondary gain; whether a person's evidence is inconsistent with or contradicted by prior statements or other evidence in the record; and the appearance and demeanor of a person as a witness at the hearing." (AR 21.)

In addition to the foregoing factors, the ALJ extensively discussed the findings of various medical professionals who concluded that Plaintiff was a malingerer. ("Indeed, numerous examiners of record have noted and commented upon the claimant's lack of credibility, efforts at feigning a disorder, and objective evidence showing malingering and/or exaggeration." [AR 21.]) The ALJ then recounted these instances in his decision. (Id.)

In addition to the foregoing, the ALJ cited evidence of instances in which Plaintiff "has given inconsistent evidence about using alcohol and/or illegal drugs." (Id.)

The Court is called upon to determine whether the ALJ properly discharged his function in ...


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