Kyniston v. Commissioner Social Security Administration, No. 2:2014cv00049 - Document 43 (D. Or. 2018)

Court Description: Opinion and Order. The decision of the Commissioner is affirmed pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. 405(g). Signed on 12/20/2018 by Magistrate Judge Thomas M. Coffin. (plb)
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Kyniston v. Commissioner Social Security Administration Doc. 43 - -~ IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON JANET K., Plaintiff, v. 2:14-CV-00049-TC Opinion and Order Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant. Plaintiff brings this proceeding to obtain judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision denying plaintiff's application for Disability Insurance Benefits. 1 - OPINION AND ORDER Dockets.Justia.com FACTUAL BACKGROUND This case has been before this court before. Plaintiff submitted evidence to this court that defendant conceded was new and material. This court remanded the matter for consideration of the new and material evidence. The ALJ had a new hearing where plaintiff, through her attorney, amended her alleged onset date to November 30, 2005. The ALJ issued a new decision finding plaintiff not disabled. Although plaintiff was represented at her first hearing, and was represented in her second hearing, she appears prose in this appeal of that second hearing. As discussed in more detail below, she makes several arguments in her opening brief. Defendant addressed all of these in a brief and persuasively demonstrated that the period in question in the present appeal is 31 days. Plaintiff did not file an optional reply brief. DISCUSSION 1. Plaintiff's Subjective Complaints Defendant has persuasively appropriately considered compared to them the demonstrated plaintiff's evidence of record, sufficient reasons for discounting them. 2 - OPINION AND ORDER subjective and that the ALJ complaints, gave legally Plaintiff's degree of medical care during the alleged period of disability, lack of significant ongoing complaints leading up to the alleged period of disability, and contradictory statements about symptoms like diarrhea were clear and convincing reasons for finding that her complaints about her symptoms from November 30, December 31, 2005 were not reliable. 2005 through It is also noteworthy that plaintiff states in her Brief: I admit I have not been a model patient. If a doctor had given me a medication that caused bad side effects, I stopped mentioning those symptoms. If a Physical Therapist was causing me additional pain, I told them what they wanted to hear so I could get away from them. This may not have been the best policy, but at the time it was my only recourse. I also failed to inform my past doctors of all my symptoms. P.p. 3-4, Plaintiff's Brief (#39). regard to the physical therapist Plaintiff also states with "I admit I lied to her about my pain levels decreasing so that I could get away from her. not helping my hip pain at all." She was Id. at p. 19. 2. The Medical Opinions Defendant has persuasively demonstrated in great detail that the ALJ appropriately resolved the conflicts in the medical opinion evidence and gave the greatest weight to the opinions of the nonexamining State agency medical consultants because their opinions were the most consistent with the relevant treatment records. 3 - OPINION AND ORDER 3. The Consideration of All of Plaintiff's Impairments at Step Two Defendant has persuasively demonstrated that the ALJ properly considered the severity of all of plaintiff's medically determinable impairments at Step Two and, in addition, if there As to the was an error as to fibromyalgia, that it was harmless. latter, the non-examining State agency medical consultant accounted for this diagnosis when formulating his opinions about plaintiff's RFC. 4. Tr. 74. Duty to Develop Record Defendant adequately evidence, has developed and the persuasively the record record was as demonstrated there adequate to evaluation of the record. See McLeod v. Astue, was that not allow the ALJ ambiguous for proper 640 F.3d 881, 885 ( 9th Cir. 2011) . The lack of corroborating medical records from the relevant period does not reflect a failure by the ALJ to develop the record. Plaintiff sought treatment in 2005 for relatively minor medical issues, like spider bites. was insµred and capable of Tr. 311, Tr. 763. seeking medical attention impairments she alleged were disabling, but did not do so. did not fail to sufficiently develop the record. plaintiff's argument to the contrary, for She the The ALJ And despite the ALJ did not have an obligation to reorganize the medical records into a more logical manner. Such does not amount a failure to adequately develop the 4 - OPINION AND ORDER ' . record. 5. Lay Witness Testimony Defendant has persuasively demonstrated appropriately considered lay witness testimony, that and , the ALJ if error occurred it was harmless. Plaintiff's husband, mother and sister drafted letters in 2014 in support of her disability claim. These letters generally describe pain, fatigue, and depression, but they do not discuss the 31 day relevant period with any specificity. Tr. 245-46, 1247-48, 1307. The ALJ found that these letters did not have probative value because plaintiff's contemporaneous documented unremarkable and benign findings. medical Tr. 974. records As noted above, the medical records and defendant's argument support this conclusion. issue is And any possible error in this particular case on this harmless because the ALJ' .s reasons for discounting plaintiff's subjective complaints are equally applicable to the lay witness statements. 1122 (9 th Cir. See Molina v. Commissioner, 674 F.3d 1104, 2012) (when an ALJ errs in considering lay witness evidence, the error is harmless where the same evidence that the ALJ referred to in discrediting plaintiff's claims also discredits the lay witness's claims). 5 - OPINION AND ORDER . .. ' 6. A Remand for Consideration of New Evidence is Not Appropriate Defendant persuasively demonstrates that a remand for consideration demonstrates of that new the evidence new is not treatment appropriate. record Defendant evidence is not material in that it does not bear directly and substantially on plaintiff's functioning in late 2005. Similarly, plaintiff's citations referring to Giardia do not establish the existence of functional limitations in late 2005. Additionally, plaintiff has not established good cause for not bringing this evidence to the attention of the Agency when her application was being adjudicated. CONCLUSION The decision of the Commissioner is affirmed pursuant to sentence four of 42 U.S.C. §405(g) DATED this ;)_(J day of December, 2018. Judge 6 - OPINION AND ORDER