Angela Torres v. Jo Anne B Barnhart

Case 5:06-cv-00516-RZ Document 16 Filed 07/18/07 Page 1 of 2 Page ID #:45 O 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CA...

0 Downloads 18 Views
Case 5:06-cv-00516-RZ Document 16 Filed 07/18/07 Page 1 of 2 Page ID #:45

O

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

9

CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

10 11

ANGELA TORRES, Plaintiff,

12 13 14 15 16 17 18

vs. MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) )

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.

19

First, Plaintiff asserts that it was error for the Administrative Law Judge

20

seemingly to have ignored and/or disregarded the opinion of a state agency psychiatrist,

21

M. Becraft, M.D. Dr. Becraft opined that Plaintiff suffered “moderate” limitations in

22

certain mental activities. But the Administrative Law Judge found Plaintiff even more

23

limited than Dr. Becraft had opined. (The judge did so based on testimony by medical

24

expert Michael Kania, Ph.D., who in turn relied on evidence from Plaintiff’s treating

25

psychiatrist, Dhassan Mahfoozi, M.D., see Administrative Record (“AR”) 15, 324, 362-

26

71.) For example, the Administrative Law Judge found Plaintiff to suffer “moderate”

27

limitations in her activities of daily living, whereas Dr. Becraft found Plaintiff to have only

28

“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

1

the Administrative Law Judge found Plaintiff had “possibly” had one or two such episodes.

2

Compare AR 15 with AR 324. In several other aspects of mental functioning, the

3

Administrative Law Judge found Plaintiff just as limited as did Dr. Becraft. Id. (both

4

finding “moderate” limitations in social functioning, maintaining concentration, persistence

5

and pace). Plaintiff’s argument thus is meritless, for any possible error in not mentioning

6

the less-favorable-to-Plaintiff opinion by Dr. Becraft could only have benefitted Plaintiff,

7

not harmed her.

8

Second, Plaintiff asserts that a hypothetical question posed to the vocational

9

expert was incomplete because it did not include Dr. Becraft’s limitations. This argument

10

fails along with the first for the same reasons.

11

Third, Plaintiff asserts that it was error for the Administrative Law Judge not

12

to have discussed the “Function Report / Adult Third Party” questionnaire submitted by

13

Plaintiff’s mother. See AR 87-96. But that questionnaire essentially tracked the opinion

14

of Dr. Mahfoozi and Plaintiff’s own subjective account; in other words, it was cumulative.

15

See AR 15. Plaintiff fails to show how her mother’s statements are at odds with the

16

Administrative Law Judge’s opinion, which found Plaintiff to have moderate limitations

17

(due to mental impairments) in several areas and restricted her to “simple and moderately

18

complex tasks in a non-public setting.” AR 14-15. The Court thus “can confidently

19

conclude that no reasonable ALJ, when fully crediting the [undiscussed lay] testimony,

20

could have reached a different disability determination.” Stout v. Commissioner, 454 F.3d

21

1050, 1056 (9th Cir. 2006). Any possible error in failing to discuss the mother’s

22

questionnaire therefore was harmless. Id.

23

Accordingly, the underlying decision is affirmed.

24 25

DATED: July 18, 2007

26 27 28

RALPH ZAREFSKY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE -2-

English