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Crowe v. Colvin

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 3, 2014

VIVIAN LEIGH CROWE, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, ACTING COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

CHARLES F. EICK, Magistrate Judge.

PROCEEDINGS

Plaintiff filed a Complaint on August 15, 2013, seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of social security disability benefits. The parties filed a consent to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge on September 18, 2013.

Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on February 21, 2014. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on March 20, 2014. The Court has taken both motions under submission without oral argument. See L.R. 7-15; "Order, " filed August 22, 2013.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

Plaintiff asserted disability since November 4, 2005, based primarily on alleged fibromyalgia and alleged dermatomyositis (Administrative Record ("A.R.") 1-844). Fibromyalgia has been described as "a common, but elusive and mysterious, disease, " whose "symptoms are entirely subjective." Sarchet v. Chater , 78 F.3d 305, 306 (7th Cir. 1996). "Some people may have such a severe case of fibromyalgia as to be totally disabled from working... but most do not...." Id . Dermatomyositis is "a connective-tissue disease characterized by skin and muscle inflammation...." Skelcy v. UnitedHealth Group, Inc., 2012 WL 6087492, at *____ (D.N.J. Dec. 6, 2012), appeal dismissed, No. 13-1049 (3d Cir. April 4, 2013).

An Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") examined the medical record, which contains conflicting evidence from numerous physicians (A.R. 17-844). On September 6, 2011, the ALJ heard testimony from Plaintiff, a medical expert, and a vocational expert (A.R. 35-61).[1] In a written decision dated September 30, 2011, the ALJ found Plaintiff retains the residual functional capacity to perform a limited range of light work (A.R. 17-27). This decision supplemented and incorporated by reference an earlier written decision issued by the same ALJ (A.R. 21; see A.R. 121-28).[2] In denying benefits, the ALJ found less than fully credible Plaintiff's subjective complaints regarding the alleged severity of her limitations (A.R. 21-22). The ALJ also discounted the opinions of three of Plaintiff's treating physicians (Drs. Freyne, Darnell and Radentz) to the extent that these physicians believed Plaintiff has greater limitations than the limitations the ALJ found to exist (A.R. 22-26). The Appeals Council denied review (A.R. 1-3).

SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF'S CONTENTIONS

Plaintiff contends:

(1) The ALJ materially erred in finding less than fully credible Plaintiff's subjective complaints regarding the alleged severity of her limitations; and
(2) The ALJ materially erred in discounting the opinions of Drs. Freyne, Darnell and Radentz.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

Under 42 U.S.C. section 405(g), this Court reviews the Administration's decision to determine if: (1) the Administration's findings are supported by substantial evidence; and (2) the Administration used correct legal standards. See Carmickle v. Commissioner , 533 F.3d 1155, 1159 (9th Cir. 2008); Hoopai v. Astrue , 499 F.3d 1071, 1074 (9th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales , 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (citation and quotations omitted); see also Widmark v. Barnhart , 454 F.3d 1063, 1067 (9th Cir. 2006).

This Court "may not affirm [the Administration's] decision simply by isolating a specific quantum of supporting evidence, but must also consider evidence that detracts from [the Administration's] conclusion." Ray v. Bowen , 813 F.2d 914, 915 (9th Cir. 1987) (citation and quotations omitted); see Lingenfelter v. Astrue , 504 F.3d 1028 (9th Cir. 2007) (same). However, the Court cannot disturb findings supported by substantial evidence, even though there may exist other evidence supporting Plaintiff's claim. See Torske v. ...


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