United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honorable G. Murray Snow United States District Judge.
before the Court is Claimant Danny Earl Johnson's appeal
of the Social Security Administration's (SSA) decision to
deny disability insurance benefits and supplemental security
income benefits. (Doc. 15). For the following reasons, the
Court affirms the denial of benefits.
Johnson filed for disability and supplemental security income
benefits on June 26, 2013, alleging a disability onset date
of June 22, 2013. His claim was denied on October 4, 2013;
reconsideration was denied on April 9, 2014. (Tr. 132, 141).
Mr. Johnson requested a hearing from an administrative law
judge (ALJ), which was held on November 3, 2015. The ALJ
determined that Mr. Johnson had the following severe
impairments: status post lumbar fusion, status post left
hemicolectomy for resection of colon cancer, hypertension,
obesity, chronic pain syndrome, opioid dependence, and
depressive disorder. (Tr. 25). With these impairments, the
ALJ found that Mr. Johnson had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work that
is simple, routine, and repetitive. (Tr. 28). Because the ALJ
determined that Mr. Johnson could perform work that exists in
significant numbers in the national economy, the ALJ found
that Mr. Johnson was not disabled under the Social Security
Act. (Tr. 34). The Appeals Council denied the request to
review, making the Commissioner's decision final. (Tr. 1-
4). Mr. Johnson now seeks judicial review of this decision
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
reviewing federal court will address only the issues raised
by the claimant in the appeal from the ALJ's decision.
See Lewis v. Apfel, 236 F.3d 503, 517 n. 13 (9th
Cir. 2001). A federal court may set aside a denial of
disability benefits when that denial is either unsupported by
substantial evidence or based on legal error. Thomas v.
Barnhart, 278 F.3d 947, 954 (9th Cir. 2002). Substantial
evidence is “more than a scintilla but less than a
preponderance.” Id. (quotation omitted). It is
“relevant evidence which, considering the record as a
whole, a reasonable person might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Id. (quotation
is responsible for resolving conflicts in testimony,
determining credibility, and resolving ambiguities. See
Andrews v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 1035, 1039 (9th Cir. 1995).
When evidence is “subject to more than one rational
interpretation, [courts] must defer to the ALJ's
conclusion.” Batson v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.
Admin., 359 F.3d 1190, 1198 (9th Cir. 2004). This is so
because “[t]he [ALJ] and not the reviewing court must
resolve conflicts in 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)
alleges that the ALJ erred by (1) improperly rejecting
Claimant's treating and state agency physicians'
opinions and (2) failing to incorporate Claimant's
limitations of concentration, persistence, and pace into the
RFC. Claimant also argues that he is entitled to remand under
sentence six of § 405(g) due to new and material
“treating physician” is one who actually treats
the claimant. Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 830
(9th Cir. 1995). When a treating doctor's opinion is not
contradicted by another doctor, it may only be rejected for
clear and convincing reasons. Id. If a treating
doctor's opinion is contradicted by another doctor, it
may only be rejected for “specific and legitimate
reasons supported by substantial evidence in the record for
so doing.” Id. In general, the opinions of
treating physicians are given more weight than examining
non-treating physicians, and the opinions of examining
physicians are given more weight than non-examining
physicians. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c)(1)-(2).
In the case of a treating doctor, the ALJ considers the
length of the treatment relationship, and the nature and
extent of the treatment relationship. Id. at §
404.1527(c)(2)(i)-(ii). For all medical providers, the ALJ
considers factors such as whether the provider supports their
opinion with evidence and whether the opinion is consistent
with the medical record. Id. at §
404.1527(c)(3)-(6). Where substantial evidence contradicts a
treating doctor's opinion, the doctor's opinion is
not entitled to controlling weight. See Orn v.
Astrue, 495 F.3d 625, 632 (9th Cir. 2007).
Dr. Laura Stewart
Dr. Laura Stewart completed a Mental Residual Functional
Capacity Assessment on November 3, 2015. Dr. Stewart marked
that Claimant had moderately severe to severe impairments in
all of the listed functions. (Tr. 826-27). Dr. Stewart stated
that the time period covered by this assessment was from
September 1, 2015 to September 1, 2015, the day Claimant
began his opioid detoxification program. (Tr. 828, 794). The
ALJ gave this opinion no weight, as a single day assessment
could not satisfy the twelve-month durational requirement.
(Tr. 32). A claimant must establish “an inability to
engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any