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Duvall v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 2, 2019

ILENE DUVALL, Plaintiff,


         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's complaint for judicial review of an unfavorable decision by the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration regarding her application for Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income. The parties have consented to entry of final judgment by the United States Magistrate Judge under the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) with any appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. (ECF Nos. 7, 8, 9).

         At a hearing on June 25, 2019, the Court heard from the parties and, having reviewed the record, administrative transcript, the briefs of the parties, and the applicable law, finds as follows:

         I. Whether RFC Included Sufficient Limitations for Plaintiff's Irritable Bowel Syndrome

         Plaintiff first challenges the ALJ's RFC by arguing “The ALJ failed to include work-related limitations in the RFC consistent with the nature and intensity of Plaintiff's limitations, and failed to offer any reason for discounting all of Ms. Duvall's symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome.” (ECF No. 14, at p. 1).

         At step 2, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's severe impairments included irritable bowel syndrome (“IBS”). (A.R. 21). However, at step 4, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of medium work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(c). (A.R. 25). The ALJ did not include any limitations specifically attributable to IBS.

         The Court will affirm the ALJ's determination of Plaintiff's RFC if the ALJ applied the proper legal standard and his decision is supported by substantial evidence. Bayliss v. Barnhart, 427 F.3d 1211, 1217 (9th Cir. 2005).

         Here, substantial evidence supported the ALJ's decision not to incorporate any specific limitations into the RFC to account for Plaintiff's IBS. The ALJ's decision extensively examines Plaintiff's allegations and the medical record related to IBS. (AR 25-27). He included the following reasons, which are supported by the record:

• “Diagnostic images of her abdomen taken since the protective filing date have shown fecal material, scattered and non-specific bowel gas, and a subtle low-density area in the pancreatic body, but they revealed little definitive evidence of significant, chronic abnormalities. A colonoscopy done on August 11, 2015 found internal hemorrhoids but was otherwise normal.” (A.R. 25, citations omitted).
• “In addition, the treatment records reflect that her medication is generally effective. She testified that her medication helps a lot and allows her to avoid hospitalization. Treatment records dated September 18, 2014, February 20, 2015, July 24, 2015, and May 9, 2016 also mentioned that her medication helps relieve her constipation. A treatment record dated June 2, 2016 reported that she was doing well on medication. According to a treatment record, dated May 21, 2016, her medication is usually able to keep her chronic abdominal problems under control. According to a treatment record dated May 9, 2016, she has trouble with stool frequency only when she misses her medication.” (AR 25-26, citations omitted).
• “The claimant has described daily activities that are not limited to the extent one would expect, given the complaints of disabling symptoms and limitations. Despite her physical impairments, she is essentially independent in personal care. She is able to prepare simple meals, perform most household chores, and take care of 3 young grandchildren and a pet dog.” (A.R. 26).
• “The record contains evidence suggesting that the claimant may be misrepresenting the degree of her limitations. The psychological consultative examiner believed that the claimant exhibited exaggerated demeanor and made inconsistent allegations during the examination.” (A.R. 26)
• “[I]n the function report, she mentioned her digestive symptoms in passing only and did not even report frequent restroom use.” (A.R. 26)
• “A review of the record in this case reveals no restrictions recommended by a treating source. It is also emphasized that all of the medical opinions in the record, which are discussed below, generally agreed the claimant could perform medium work, despite her impairments.” (A.R. 26)

         While the Plaintiff points to other evidence, largely consisting of Plaintiff's testimony, and also disagrees about the probative value of the reasons given, especially the discussion of activities of daily living, Plaintiff does not challenge these reasons or the citations given in support of ...

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