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Glynn v. Colvin

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

February 6, 2017

KELLY ANN GLYNN, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Leo T. Sorokin United States District Judge

         Kelly Glynn submitted an application for disability insurance benefits on January 22, 2014, and an application for supplemental security income on February 6, 2014, claiming an alleged onset date of July 10, 2011. R. at 20. Glynn's claims were denied initially on May 14, 2014, and on reconsideration on September 30, 2014. Id. Glynn requested a hearing before an ALJ but did not appear at the hearing. Id. The ALJ denied Glynn's claims on May 26, 2015. R. at 35. The ALJ found at step one that Glynn had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 10, 2011, R. at 22; at step two that Glynn had multiple severe impairments, R. at 22; at step three that those impairments did not meet the definition of a severe impairment or combination of impairments under the regulations, R. at 23; at step four that Glynn's RFC allowed for light work except she could only occasionally stoop or crouch which did not allow her to do her past relevant work, R. at 25, 34; and at step five that jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Glynn could perform, R. at 35.

         On August 14, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Glynn's request for review. R. at 10. Glynn then filed this action seeking judicial review by the Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons stated below, the Court DENIES Glynn's Motion to Reverse, Doc. No. 15, and ALLOWS the Defendant's Motion to Affirm, Doc. No. 16.

         ANALYSIS [1]

         A. Standard of Review

         The Court's jurisdiction is limited to reviewing the Administrative Record to determine whether the ALJ applied the proper legal standards and whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence in the record. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Manso-Pizarro v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 76 F.3d 15, 16 (1st Cir. 1996) (per curiam). Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind, reviewing the evidence in the record as a whole, could accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Rodriguez v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 647 F.2d 218, 222 (1st Cir. 1981). Determinations of credibility and the resolution of conflicts in the evidence are for the Commissioner and not for the doctors or for courts. Id.; see Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 399 (1971).

         Nevertheless, administrative findings of fact are not conclusive “when derived by ignoring evidence, misapplying the law, or judging matters entrusted to experts.” Nguyen v. Chater, 172 F.3d 31, 35 (1st Cir. 1999) (per curiam). If the Court finds that the Commissioner's decision is based on legal error or is not supported by substantial evidence, it has the power to modify or reverse the Commissioner's decision, with or without remanding for rehearing. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         Where, as is the case here, the Plaintiff is pro se, “the [C]ourt holds her pleadings to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers and will interpret [Glynn's] pleadings to raise the strongest arguments that they suggest.” Tefera v. Colvin, 61 F.Supp.3d 207, 214 (D. Mass. 2014) (first alteration in original) (citations omitted) (quoting Ming v. Astrue, No. 07-4567, 2009 WL 2495947, at *4 (E.D.N.Y. Apr. 13, 2009)). Under a liberal reading of Glynn's Motion to Reverse, Doc. No. 15, the Court sees the following arguments[2]: substantial evidence did not support the ALJ's RFC finding because he did not properly consider the opinion of Dr. Uzogara and because he denied her application due to her refusal to take medications; substantial evidence did not support the ALJ's finding at step four; and that substantial evidence did not support the ALJ's finding at step five that Glynn could still perform other jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy.

         B. ALJ's RFC Finding

         Pursuant to 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e) and 416.920(e), the ALJ must determine a claimant's RFC, which is a claimant's ability to do physical and mental work on a sustained basis despite limitations from her impairments. In making the RFC finding, the ALJ must consider all of the claimant's impairments, including impairments that are not severe. See 20 CFR 404.1520(e), 404.1545, 416.945; SSR 96-8p. The ALJ formulated Prescott's RFC as follows:

After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except she can only occasionally stoop or crouch. She is able to sustain concentration, persistence and pace for 2-hour periods over the course of an 8-hour workday and 40-hour workweek. She is able to manage appropriate, superficial interactions in the workplace and respond to supervision.

R. at 25.

         Glynn's argument is difficult to ascertain but the Court understands her to be arguing that the ALJ erred in analyzing her RFC because she did not take medications and because the ALJ did not properly consider the opinion of Dr. Uzogara.

         An ALJ must “always consider the medical opinions in [the] case record.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(b). Under the “treating source rule, ” the ALJ should generally give “more weight” to the opinions of “treating sources, since these sources are likely to be the medical professionals most able to provide a detailed, longitudinal picture of [a claimant's] medical impairment(s) and may bring a unique perspective to the medical evidence that cannot be obtained from the objective medical findings alone or from reports of individual examinations.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c)(2). “Generally, a treating source's opinion on the nature or severity of impairments is given controlling weight if well-supported by medically acceptable clinical techniques and consistent with ...


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