Case 5:06-cv-00516-RZ Document 16 Filed 07/18/07 Page 1 of 2 Page ID #:45
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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
ANGELA TORRES, Plaintiff,
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vs. MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
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CASE NO. ED CV 06-00516 (RZ) MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
None of Plaintiff’s three arguments for reversal of the underlying step-five denial of disability benefits is persuasive. The Court thus will affirm.
First, Plaintiff asserts that it was error for the Administrative Law Judge
seemingly to have ignored and/or disregarded the opinion of a state agency psychiatrist,
M. Becraft, M.D. Dr. Becraft opined that Plaintiff suffered “moderate” limitations in
certain mental activities. But the Administrative Law Judge found Plaintiff even more
limited than Dr. Becraft had opined. (The judge did so based on testimony by medical
expert Michael Kania, Ph.D., who in turn relied on evidence from Plaintiff’s treating
psychiatrist, Dhassan Mahfoozi, M.D., see Administrative Record (“AR”) 15, 324, 362-
71.) For example, the Administrative Law Judge found Plaintiff to suffer “moderate”
limitations in her activities of daily living, whereas Dr. Becraft found Plaintiff to have only
“mild” problems in that regard. While Dr. Becraft found zero instances of decompensation,
Case 5:06-cv-00516-RZ Document 16 Filed 07/18/07 Page 2 of 2 Page ID #:46
the Administrative Law Judge found Plaintiff had “possibly” had one or two such episodes.
Compare AR 15 with AR 324. In several other aspects of mental functioning, the
Administrative Law Judge found Plaintiff just as limited as did Dr. Becraft. Id. (both
finding “moderate” limitations in social functioning, maintaining concentration, persistence
and pace). Plaintiff’s argument thus is meritless, for any possible error in not mentioning
the less-favorable-to-Plaintiff opinion by Dr. Becraft could only have benefitted Plaintiff,
not harmed her.
Second, Plaintiff asserts that a hypothetical question posed to the vocational
expert was incomplete because it did not include Dr. Becraft’s limitations. This argument
fails along with the first for the same reasons.
Third, Plaintiff asserts that it was error for the Administrative Law Judge not
to have discussed the “Function Report / Adult Third Party” questionnaire submitted by
Plaintiff’s mother. See AR 87-96. But that questionnaire essentially tracked the opinion
of Dr. Mahfoozi and Plaintiff’s own subjective account; in other words, it was cumulative.
See AR 15. Plaintiff fails to show how her mother’s statements are at odds with the
Administrative Law Judge’s opinion, which found Plaintiff to have moderate limitations
(due to mental impairments) in several areas and restricted her to “simple and moderately
complex tasks in a non-public setting.” AR 14-15. The Court thus “can confidently
conclude that no reasonable ALJ, when fully crediting the [undiscussed lay] testimony,
could have reached a different disability determination.” Stout v. Commissioner, 454 F.3d
1050, 1056 (9th Cir. 2006). Any possible error in failing to discuss the mother’s
questionnaire therefore was harmless. Id.
Accordingly, the underlying decision is affirmed.
DATED: July 18, 2007
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RALPH ZAREFSKY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE -2-