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Pryor v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, C.D. California

June 27, 2016

DANIEL CARL PRYOR, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          CHARLES F. EICK, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         PROCEEDINGS

         Plaintiff filed a complaint on December 10, 2015, seeking review of the Commissioner's denial of benefits. The parties consented to proceed before a United States Magistrate Judge on January 12, 2016. Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment on May 19, 2016. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment on June 20, 2016. The Court has taken the motions under submission without oral argument. See L.R. 7-15; "Order, " filed December 14, 2015.

         BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF ADMINISTRATIVE DECISION

         From 1978 through at least the end of 2009, Plaintiff performed work as a bricklayer, which required heavy exertion throughout the work day (Administrative Record ("A.R.") 32-34, 46, 67, 181-88, 216). According to Plaintiff, on the first day of 2010, he became physically disabled from performing any work whatsoever (A.R. 31, 167, 174). The claimed disappearance of Plaintiff's ability to perform any work allegedly resulted not from any sudden illness or trauma, but from a "gradually" worsening back problem (A.R. 34-36, 82). This "gradually" worsening problem reportedly began when Plaintiff was 15 years of age (A.R. 35, 82). Plaintiff also claimed to be disabled as a result of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease ("COPD") and alleged problems with his right wrist and left knee (A.R. 81).

         An Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") examined the medical record and heard testimony from Plaintiff and a vocational expert (A.R. 10-257, 259-380). The ALJ found Plaintiff has severe disc disease of the lumbar spine and COPD, but retains the residual functional capacity to perform a limited range of medium work (A.R. 15-20). In reliance on the testimony of the vocational expert, the ALJ determined that a person having this residual functional capacity could not work as a bricklayer, but could perform several identified jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy (A.R. 20-22, 47-49).

         In finding Plaintiff not disabled, the ALJ deemed Plaintiff's statements concerning the alleged severity of his subjective symptomatology "not entirely credible" (A.R. 18). The ALJ also rejected the opinions of Dr. Matthew Root and Dr. Seong Kang, who are alleged to have been two of Plaintiff's treating physicians (A.R. 19-20).

         The Appeals Council considered additional evidence, but denied review (A.R. 1-5, 258, 381-82).

         SUMMARY OF PLAINTIFF'S CONTENTIONS

         Plaintiff contends:

1. The administrative decision is not supported by substantial evidence;
2. The ALJ failed to state sufficient reasons for rejecting the opinions of Dr. Root;
3. The ALJ failed to state sufficient reasons for rejecting the opinions of Dr. Kang; and
4. The ALJ should have developed the record more fully.

         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); see also Brewes v. Commissioner, 682 F.3d 1157, 1161 (9th Cir. 2012). Substantial evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson ...


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