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Elam v. Colvin

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Bowling Green Division

July 2, 2015

JAMES H. ELAM, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

LANNY KING, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking judicial review, pursuant to Sentence 4 of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), of a final decision of the Social Security administration denying his claims for disability benefits. Docket Number (DN) 13. The decision was issued by an administrative law judge (ALJ). Additionally, Plaintiff filed a motion for a judicial remand to the administration, pursuant to Sentence 6 of Section 405(g), for consideration of new and material evidence that was not before the ALJ. DN 12. The Commissioner's consolidated answer to complaint and response in opposition to motion is at DN 18.

The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned Magistrate Judge to determine this case, with any appeal lying before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The matter is ripe for determination.

Because the ALJ's decision failed to give "good reasons" as contemplated by 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c)(2) and 416.927(c)(2) for the weight given to the medical opinion of Plaintiff's treating physician, the Commissioner's decision does not comport with applicable legal standards and must be remanded for a new decision. Additionally, a sentence-six remand is warranted for consideration of new and material evidence.

Judicial Review

Plaintiff alleges disability, among other things, due to degenerative disc disease with radiculopathy and chronic pain syndrome.

On June 14, 2013, Plaintiff's treating physician, Narendra Nathoo, completed the standard Residual Functional Capacity [RFC] Assessment form, finding significant limitations with respect to Plaintiff's ability to lift and stand/walk, which are incompatible with the requirements of light work. Administrative Record (AR), p. 471.[1]

The ALJ gave Dr. Nathoo's opinion "little weight" and found that, although he can no longer perform his past relevant work, Plaintiff can perform a significant number of light jobs in the national economy. AR, pp. 56-57.

The ALJ's stated rationale for rejection of Dr. Nathoo's opinion was:

1. Dr. Nathoo's opinion is "inconsistent with this doctor's own contemporaneously reported findings (Exhibits 15F, 19F) [AR, pp. 441-445 and 475-478]."

2. Dr. Nathoo's treatment notes provide "no basis whatsoever for the environmental limitations posited by Dr. Nathoo."

3. Plaintiff "testified that he had no problems with hand and arm use."

4. The Function Reports submitted by Plaintiff and his mother at Exhibits 1E and 8E [AR, pp. 249-57 and 291-99] indicate "no significant problems with... standing, walking."

5. Mason v. Commissioner, 994 F.2d 1058 (3d Cir.1993), Crane v. Commissioner, 76 F.3d 251 (9th Cir.1996), and O'Leary v. Secretary, 710 F.2d 1334 (8th Cir.1983) hold that "form reports [such as Dr. Nathoo's completion of the RFC Assessment form], in which a source's only obligation is to fill in a blank or ...


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