United States District Court, D. Maine
MEMORANDUM DECISION 
H. Rich III United States Magistrate Judge
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) appeal
raises the questions of whether the administrative law judge
based his decision on erroneous medical testimony and whether
he incorrectly evaluated the opinion of an evaluating medical
source. I affirm the commissioner's decision.
accordance with the commissioner's sequential evaluation
process, 20 C.F.R. § 416.920; Goodermote v.
Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 690 F.2d 5, 6
(1st Cir. 1982), the administrative law judge found, in
relevant part, that the plaintiff suffered from
anxiety-related disorder/anxiety disorder NOS (not otherwise
specified), and personality disorder/personality disorder
NOS, impairments that were severe but which, considered
separately or in combination, did not meet or medically equal
the criteria of any impairment listed in Appendix 1 to 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P (the “Listings”),
Findings 2-3, Record at 17-18; that he had the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a full
range of work at all exertional levels, except that he could
understand, remember, and carry out semi-complex
instructions, use judgment in making semi-complex
work-related decisions, interact occasionally and
appropriately with coworkers, supervisors, and usual work
settings not involving the public, and adapt to occasional
changes in the ordinary work setting, Finding 4, id.
at 20; that he had no past relevant work, Finding 5,
id. at 24; that, considering his age (29 years old
on the date his application was filed, November 17, 2011),
education (at least high school), and RFC, there were jobs
existing in significant numbers in the national economy that
he could perform, Findings 6-9, id.; and that he,
therefore, had not been disabled, as that term is defined in
the Social Security Act, from November 17, 2011, through the
date of the decision, February 26, 2014, Finding 10,
id. at 25. The Appeals Council declined to review
the decision, id. at 1-4, making the decision the
final determination of the commissioner, 20 C.F.R. §
416.1481; Dupuis v. Secretary of Health & Human
Servs., 869 F.2d 622, 623 (1st Cir. 1989).
standard of review of the commissioner's decision is
whether the determination made is supported by substantial
evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3); Manso-Pizarro v.
Secretary of Health & Human Servs., 76 F.3d 15, 16
(1st Cir. 1996). In other words, the determination must be
supported by such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support the conclusion drawn.
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971);
Rodriguez v. Secretary of Health & Human Servs.,
647 F.2d 218, 222 (1st Cir. 1981).
administrative law judge reached Step 5 of the sequential
evaluation process, at which stage the burden of proof shifts
to the commissioner to show that a claimant can perform work
other than his past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(g); Bowen v. Yuckert, 482 U.S. 137, 146 n.5
(1987); Goodermote, 690 F.2d at 7. The record must
contain substantial evidence in support of the
commissioner's findings regarding the plaintiff's RFC
to perform such other work. Rosado v. Secretary of Health
& Human Servs., 807 F.2d 292, 294 (1st Cir. 1986).
plaintiff contends that the administrative law judge
impermissibly relied upon the testimony at the hearing of a
medical expert, James Claiborn, Ph.D., because that testimony
was “erroneous and contrary to Social Security
policy” and resulted from prompting by the
administrative law judge. Itemized Statement of Errors
Pursuant to Local Rule 16.3 Submitted by Plaintiff
(“Itemized Statement”) (ECF No. 8) at 3-4. He
asserts that the administrative law judge's reading to
Dr. Claiborn his testimony “from another, unidentified
hearing clearly indicat[es] that the ALJ had prejudged the
issue and was coaching the ME.” Id. at 3.
following testimony by Dr. Claiborn, in response to
questioning by the administrative law judge, is at issue:
Q Do you believe [the plaintiff] has the ability on a
sustained competitive basis to understand, remember, and
carry out semi-complex instructions?
A I believe so, yes.
Q Use judgment and make semi-complex work related decision?
Q Respond appropriately to co-workers, supervisors and usual
work situations not involving the public?
A I think he's prone to being a difficult person to
interact with so that he's going to have trouble with
authority figures particularly. He's not going to respond
well to being told what to do. And if we get into an issue
where is this something that he's capable of doing or
prone to do even though it's responsibility, it's
about ability. I think ...