United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
E.K. PRATTER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
NOW, this 10th day of May, 2018, upon consideration
of Plaintiff's Request for Review (Doc. No. 14),
Defendant Nancy Berryhill's Response (Doc. No. 16),
Plaintiff's Reply (Doc. No. 17), Magistrate Judge Marilyn
Heffley's Report and Recommendation (Doc. No. 18), and
Plaintiff's Objections (Doc. No. 19), it is
ORDERED as follows:
1. The Report and Recommendation (Doc. No. 18) is
APPROVED and ADOPTED;
2. Plaintiff's Request for Review (Doc. No. 14) is
3. The Clerk of Court shall mark this case
CLOSED for all purposes, including statistics.
 Ms. Northington identifies four errors
in the Report and Recommendation, and, by extension, in the
ALJ's conclusion. None has merit.
First, she argues that the ALJ
unfairly discounted the evaluation and opinion of Dr. Matiz
on the ground that Dr. Matiz treated Ms. Northington only
once. See Report & Recommendation, at 9. She
points out that Dr. Johnson, whose evaluation and opinion
received greater weight from the ALJ, also treated Ms.
Northington only once.
But Dr. Matiz's one-off treatment was not the
ALJ's only reason for discounting his opinion; both the
ALJ and Magistrate Judge Heffley also emphasized the
“large gap” in time between Dr. Matiz's
treatment of Ms. Northington and his opinion of her
disabilities. See Report & Recommendation, at
Furthermore, Dr. Matiz's one-off treatment was
relevant to his opinion in a way that Dr. Johnson's was
not: Ms. Northington claimed that Dr. Matiz qualified as her
“treating physician” whose opinion was entitled
to controlling weight. But treating physicians only receive
such deference because they typically see their patients more
than once and are therefore “most able to provide a
detailed, longitudinal picture of [the patient's] medical
impairments.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.927(c)(2). Yet a
doctor who sees a patient only once cannot provide such a
detailed, longitudinal picture. See Report &
Recommendation, at 8.
Second, Ms. Northington argues that
the ALJ focused myopically on the inconsistencies between Dr.
Matiz's contemporaneous treatment notes and his eventual
opinion about Ms. Northington's disabilities.
See Report & Recommendation, at 10. Instead, the
ALJ should have evaluated Dr. Matiz's medical opinion for
its consistency “with the record as a whole.”
See 20 C.F.R. § 416.927(c)(4).
But a doctor's firsthand notes are a piece of the
overall record - and a potentially vital piece, when (as
here) the notes undercut the doctor's eventual medical
opinion. See Report & Recommendation, at 9. The
discrepancy between Dr. Matiz's notes and his eventual
opinion present “relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion” that
Dr. Matiz's opinion should be discounted. See