United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honorable Deborah M. Fine United States Magistrate Judge.
Gina Dianne Sherwyn appeals from the denial of her
application for benefits from the Social Security
Administration. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 405(g) and, with the parties' consent to
Magistrate Judge jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c). The Court will affirm the ALJ's opinion.
court must affirm the ALJ's findings if they are
supported by substantial evidence and are free from
reversible error. Marcia v. Sullivan, 900 F.2d 172,
174 (9thCir. 1990). Substantial evidence is more
than a mere scintilla, but less than a preponderance; it is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). In
determining whether substantial evidence supports the
ALJ's decision, the court considers the record as a
whole, weighing both the evidence that supports and that
which detracts from the ALJ's conclusions. Reddick v.
Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 720 (9th Cir. 1998). If
there is sufficient evidence to support the ALJ's
determination, the Court cannot substitute its own
determination. See Young v. Sullivan, 911 F.2d 180,
184 (9thCir. 1990). Thus, the Court must affirm
the ALJ's decision where the evidence considered in its
entirety substantially supports it and the decision is free
from reversible error. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Hammock
v. Bowen, 879 F.2d 498, 501 (9th Cir. 1989).
was 53 years old at her amended onset date and previously
worked as a licensed practical nurse. (Tr. 37, 82) As
relevant here, the ALJ concluded that she had the following
severe impairments: chondromalacia of the patella (right
knee), major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety
disorder, and a history of polysubstance dependence with
opioid addition (reported remission). (Tr. 28-29) Sherwyn
does not challenge this. On appeal, Sherwyn argues that the
ALJ improperly weighed the opinion of the physician who
conducted the physical examination and also that the ALJ
should have incorporated the limitations described by her
physical therapist. (Doc. 17).
McPhee, M.D. Sherwyn alleged that she was disabled, in
part, because of knee pain. As part of the development of
this claim, she was evaluated by Lucia McPhee, M.D. Dr.
McPhee's report concluded with four impressions:
1. Chronic right knee complaints with reported chondromalacia
patella. There are limited findings on examination at this
time. It appears there has been some improvement with her
treatment thus far based on the limited clinical examination
findings. Symptoms may continue to improve.
2. Complaints of low back pain with intermittent
exacerbations. This may improve with conservative measures.
3. Presumed early degeneration in right hand in particular.
4. Allegation of depression, which is deferred to separate
(Tr. 360) Dr. McPhee's report then ascribed limitations
to Sherwyn that were consistent with light duty restrictions.
ALJ's opinion reviewed Dr. McPhee's evaluation and
assigned it “little weight because it [wa]s
inconsistent with the medical evidence, ” described an
x-ray, and then stated that “Dr. McPhee's
limitations are not supported by the x-ray.” Finally,
the ALJ opinion appears to agree with the State agency
consultants' conclusion that Dr. McPhee's
“opinion was ‘too restrictive.'” (Tr.
perhaps inartfully explained, the ALJ's decision to
assign little weight to Dr. McPhee is supported by the
record. The ALJ's decision referred to an x-ray that Dr.
McPhee had ordered during her evaluation. (Tr. 365) That
contemporaneous x-ray of Sherwyn's right knee showed no
“injury or substantial degenerative changes.”
(Tr. 365) Dr. McPhee did not explain, and it is ...