United States District Court, D. Maine
DAWN M. SCOVEL, Plaintiff
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, ACTING COMMISSIONER, SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, Defendant
REPORT AND RECOMMENDED DECISION
C. Nivison U.S. Magistrate Judge.
action, Plaintiff Dawn M. Scovel seeks disability insurance
benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act.
Defendant, the Social Security Administration Acting
Commissioner, found that Plaintiff has severe impairments,
but retains the functional capacity to perform substantial
gainful activity. Defendant, therefore, denied
Plaintiff's request for disability benefits. Plaintiff
filed this action for judicial review of Defendant's
final administrative decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
a review of the record, and after consideration of the
parties' arguments, I recommend the Court vacate the
administrative decision and remand the matter for further
Commissioner's final decision is the May 29, 2015,
decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) (ECF No.
11-2). The ALJ's decision tracks the familiar
five-step sequential evaluation process for analyzing social
security disability claims, 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520.
Plaintiff initially filed her claim, she alleged an onset
date of January 1, 2008, but later amended the onset date to
January 1, 2013. Plaintiff's claim is subject to a date
last insured of September 30, 2014. The ALJ found that within
the relevant period, Plaintiff had severe, but
non-listing-level impairments, which consisted of
fibromyalgia, degenerative disk disease of the lumbar spine
(post-surgery), seizure disorder, migraines, bilateral carpal
tunnel syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome (post bilateral
surgical release with good result), affective
disorder/depression not otherwise specified, and anxiety
disorder not otherwise specified. (Decision ¶¶ 3,
further found that through the date last insured, Plaintiff
had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform light
work that required not more than occasional balancing,
stooping, kneeling, crouching, crawling and climbing, and no
use of ladders, ropes or scaffolds; frequent but not constant
handling; no extreme cold, vibrating tools, unprotected
heights or irregular terrain; and simple instructions and
tasks. (Id. ¶ 5.) While Plaintiff's RFC
would not permit her to engage in her past relevant work, in
accordance with the testimony from a vocational expert, the
ALJ concluded that a person with Plaintiff's RFC and
vocational background is “not disabled” under the
framework of the Commissioner's Medical-Vocational
Guidelines, 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2.
(Id. ¶ 10.) The ALJ, therefore, determined that
Plaintiff was not disabled within the relevant timeframe.
(Id. ¶ 11.)
Statement of Errors
alleges the ALJ erred as follows: (1) he failed to consider
“other evidence of record” as required by 20
C.F.R. § 404.1512 and Social Security Ruling 06-03p,
specifically, the statement and report by Plaintiff's
most recent former employer; and (2) he failed to weigh
properly the treating source opinion of Richard Dubocq, M.D.,
in violation of 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527 and Social Security
A. Standard of Review
must affirm the administrative decision provided that the ALJ
applied the correct legal standards and provided that the
decision is supported by substantial evidence, even if the
record contains evidence capable of supporting an alternative
outcome. Manso-Pizarro v. Sec'y of HHS, 76 F.3d
15, 16 (1st Cir. 1996) (per curiam); Rodriguez Pagan v.
Sec'y of HHS, 819 F.2d 1, 3 (1st Cir. 1987).
Substantial evidence is evidence that a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a finding. Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971); Rodriguez v.
Sec'y of HHS, 647 F.2d 218, 222 (1st Cir. 1981).
“The ALJ's findings of fact are conclusive when
supported by substantial evidence, but they are not
conclusive when derived by ignoring evidence, misapplying the
law, or judging matters entrusted to experts.”
Nguyen v. Chater, 172 F.3d 31, 35 (1st Cir. 1999).
to the applicable regulations, the Social Security
Administration ordinarily will “give more weight”
to opinions provided by treating sources than to opinions
offered by non-treating sources. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527(c)(2). In particular, “controlling
weight” is given to “a treating source's
medical opinion on the issue(s) of the nature and severity of
[a claimant's] impairment(s)” if the opinion
“is well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with
the other substantial evidence in [the claimant's] case
record.” Id. In addition, with respect to any
expert opinion, “the more consistent a medical opinion
is with the record as a whole, the more weight we will give
to that medical opinion.” Id. §
404.1527(c)(4). “Other factors” include
“the extent to which a medical source is familiar with
the other information in [the claimant's] case
record.” Id. § 404.1527(c)(6).
with the regulations, the Social Security Administration
Commissioner has determined that as part of the “other
evidence, ” the Commissioner “will consider all
of the available evidence in the individual's case
record, ” including “statements by …
others about the impairment(s) and how it affects the
individual's functioning.” Social SecurityRuling 06-03p, Titles II and XVI: Considering Opinions
and Other Evidence From SourcesWho Are Not
“Acceptable Medical Sources” in Disability
Claims; Considering Decisionson Disability by ...