United States District Court, D. Arizona
A. Teilborg, Senior United States District Judge
before the Court is Plaintiff's appeal of the denial of
his social security disability benefits.
Review of Administrative Law Judge's Decision
Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”) decision
to deny benefits will be overturned “only if it is not
supported by substantial evidence or is based on legal
error.” Magallanes v. Bowen, 881 F.2d 747, 750
(9th Cir. 1989) (quotation omitted). “Substantial
evidence” means more than a mere scintilla, but less
than a preponderance. Reddick v. Chater, 157 F.3d
715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998).
inquiry here is whether the record, read as a whole, yields
such evidence as would allow a reasonable mind to accept the
conclusions reached by the ALJ.” Gallant v.
Heckler, 753 F.2d 1450, 1453 (9th Cir. 1984) (citation
omitted). In determining whether there is substantial
evidence to support a decision, the Court considers the
record as a whole, weighing both the evidence that supports
the ALJ's conclusions and the evidence that detracts from
the ALJ's conclusions. Reddick, 157 F.3d at 720.
“Where evidence is susceptible of more than one
rational interpretation, it is the ALJ's conclusion which
must be upheld; and in reaching his findings, the ALJ is
entitled to draw inferences logically flowing from the
evidence.” Gallant, 753 F.2d at 1453
(citations omitted); see Batson v. Comm'r of the Soc.
Sec. Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1193 (9th Cir. 2004). This
is because “[t]he trier of fact and not the reviewing
court must resolve conflicts in the evidence, and if the
evidence can support either outcome, the court may not
substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ.”
Matney v. Sullivan, 981 F.2d 1016, 1019 (9th Cir.
1992); see also Young v. Sullivan, 911 F.2d 180, 184
(9th Cir. 1990).
is responsible for resolving conflicts in medical testimony,
determining credibility, and resolving ambiguities. See
Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 1995).
Thus, if on the whole record before the Court, substantial
evidence supports the ALJ's decision, the Court must
affirm it. See Hammock v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501
(9th Cir. 1989); see also 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
(2012). On the other hand, the Court “may not affirm
simply by isolating a specific quantum of supporting
evidence.” Orn v. Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 630
(9th Cir. 2007) (quotation and citation omitted).
the Court is not charged with reviewing the evidence and
making its own judgment as to whether Plaintiff is or is not
disabled. Rather, the Court's inquiry is constrained to
the reasons asserted by the ALJ and the evidence relied on in
support of those reasons. See Connett v. Barnhart,
340 F.3d 871, 874 (9th Cir. 2003).
Claims of Error on Appeal
Plaintiff purports to have four claims of error on appeal,
within his brief he raises various sub-arguments. The Court
has attempted to discern the exact claims Plaintiff is
bringing and the headings below reflect what the Court
believes to be the claims.
Plaintiff's Treatment Records
claims the ALJ erred in “finding that Plaintiff's
psychological treatment was inadequate in light of the
severity of his condition.” (Doc. 20 at 3). However,
the ALJ did not make this finding. Instead, the ALJ found,
“The claimant has not generally received the type of
psychiatric treatment one would expect if the limitations
imposed by the claimant's impairments were as broad and
limiting as the claimant alleges.” (Doc. 15-3 at
the ALJ was not making a medical determination that the
Plaintiff had inadequate treatment. Instead, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff's claimed symptoms were inconsistent with
Plaintiff's known treatment history; thereby calling into
question the veracity of Plaintiff's symptom
testimony. Failing to seek treatment is a valid
reason to discredit Plaintiff's symptom testimony.
Tommasetti v. Astrue, 533 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir.
2008). Accordingly, the Court finds no error regarding the
ALJ's observations about Plaintiff's treatment
Thoroughness of the ALJ's Decision
Plaintiff claims the ALJ's decision was inadequate
because it was boilerplate and arbitrary. (Doc. 20 at 3).
More specifically, Plaintiff complains that the ALJ did not
adequately explain why Plaintiff's routine and
conservative treatment since October of 2012 for his claimed
psychological disorders diminished Plaintiff's
credibility. However, in the decision, the ALJ spent an
entire paragraph discussing why Plaintiff's treatment
history was inconsistent with the severity of the disability
he claims to have. (Doc. 15-3 at 28). This paragraph was
specific to ...