United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
QUETCY Y. CARMONA, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Defendant.
S. Diamond, J.
Quetcy Y. Carmona, through counsel, challenges the denial of
disability insurance benefits and supplemental security
income. (Pl.'s Req. for Review, Doc. No. 13.) Magistrate
Judge Timothy R. Rice has recommended that I uphold the
Commissioner's decision and enter Judgment in favor of
the Commissioner. (R & R 1, Doc. No. 23.) Plaintiff has
objected and the Commissioner has responded. (Objs., Doc. No.
26; Gov't Resp., Doc. No. 28.) I will overrule
Plaintiff's objections and adopt Judge Rice's Report
September 24, 2014, Plaintiff filed her supplemental security
income application and her disability insurance benefits
application. (R. 19, Doc. No. 6-2.) She alleges that,
beginning November 30, 2013, she became disabled and
completely unable to work. (Id.) Her applications
were first denied on February 4, 2015. (Id.) On
March 5, 2015, Plaintiff filed a written request for a
hearing, which the ALJ conducted on August 31, 2016.
(Id.) The ALJ denied Plaintiffs claims, finding that
Plaintiff was not disabled, and that although she is unable
to resume her prior employment, she is “capable of
making a successful adjustment to other work that exists in
significant numbers in the national economy.” (R.
29-30.) Plaintiff's request for review by the Appeals
Committee was denied. (R. 1-3.) On April 2, 2019, Judge Rice
submitted his Report and Recommendation. (R & R, Doc. No.
affirm the ALJ's decision if it is supported by
substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Monsour
Med. Ctr. v. Heckler, 806 F.2d 1185, 1190 (3d Cir.
1986). “Substantial evidence ‘does not mean a
large or considerable amount of evidence, but rather such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.'” Hartranft
v. Apfel, 181 F.3d 358, 360 (3d Cir. 1999) (quoting
Pierce v. Underwood, 487 U.S. 552, 565 (1988)).
“The presence of evidence in the record that supports a
contrary conclusion does not undermine the Commissioner's
decision so long as the record provides substantial support
for that decision.” Malloy v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 306 Fed.Appx. 761, 764 (3d Cir. 2009).
review de novo those portions of the Report and
Recommendation or specific factual findings to which
objection is made. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Brown v.
Astrue, 649 F.3d 193, 195 (3d Cir. 2011). I may
“accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, [the
Magistrate Judge's] findings and recommendations.”
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). It is also within my discretion
to rely on the findings and conclusions of the Magistrate
Judge to which no objection has been made. See United
States v. Raddatz, 447 U.S. 667, 676 (1980).
argues that Judge Rice should have ruled that the ALJ erred
in: (1) improperly reaching his finding as to plaintiff's
RFC based solely on his lay interpretation of medical
evidence; (2) rejecting the severity of Plaintiff's
disability based upon the “conservative” nature
of her treatment; and (3) failing to weigh the testimony of
Plaintiff's daughter. (Objs. 1, 5, 7.)
first argues that Judge Rice should have rejected the
ALJ's finding that she had the RFC to perform sedentary
work because the ALJ relied only on his “own lay
interpretation of the medical evidence.” (Objs. 1.)
Plaintiff contends that without medical opinion
evidence, the ALJ could not have made the RFC finding. (Objs.
1-5.) I disagree.
“is responsible for assessing [the claimant's]
residual functional capacity.” 20 C.F.R. §
404.1546(c). The RFC assessment is a function-by-function
determination based upon all the relevant evidence of the
claimant's ability to do work related activities despite
the limitations caused by her impairments. See id.;
Burnett v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 220 F.3d 112,
121 (3d Cir. 2000). The ALJ must support his findings with
medical evidence. Doak v. Heckler, 790 F.2d 26, 29
(3d Cir. 1986). The ALJ is not bound by a treating
physician's RFC opinion; rather, he may reject the
opinion if there is a lack of supporting data in the record,
or if the opinion is contrary to the medical evidence.
See Chandler v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 667 F.3d
356, 361 (3d Cir. 2011); Mays v. Barhart, 78 Fed.
App'x 808, 813 (3d Cir. 2003) (no requirement that the
ALJ must seek a separate expert opinion).
ALJ's findings here are amply supported by the record. In
finding that Plaintiff has the RFC to perform sedentary work,
the ALJ: considered the entire record, including dozens of
pages of medical records and Plaintiff's entire medical
history; described Plaintiff's statements regarding her
symptoms, past treatment, diagnoses, and medical visits; and
explicitly stated that, in considering all the evidence, he
found Plaintiff's complaints were disproportionate to the
medical evidence in the record. (R. 24-29.) The ALJ thus
found that, despite Plaintiff's impairments, she could
perform work at the sedentary exertional level with some
adjustments. (R. 23, 29); 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1568(a),
416.967(a). Nowhere in the ALJ's opinion did he
contradict medical evidence regarding Plaintiff's RFC;
indeed, his determination includes his explicit consideration
of the medical evidence. Accordingly, I will overrule
Plaintiff's objection on this issue.