United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
TIMOTHY R. RICE U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Esther Jane Miller alleges the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) erred in denying her application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) by failing
to credit her allegation that she needed to “move
around” when she changed positions between sitting and
standing. Pl. Br. (doc. 11) at 7. I disagree and deny
Miller had multiple severe impairments, including cervical
and lumbar herniation and radiculopathy, the ALJ found Miller
capable of a limited scope of light work that included only
positions with a sit/stand option. R. at 18. Based on
testimony from a Vocational Expert (“VE”) that
such positions were available, the ALJ concluded Miller was
not disabled. Id. at 25. The VE also testified that
positions with a sit/stand option would require Miller to
continue working while changing positions, and that no jobs
were available where Miller could walk away from her work
station for five minutes every time she changed position.
Id. at 60.
to Miller, “the opinions of the treating
providers” and “the objective diagnostic
studies” supported “the fact that [she] would
need to move around when she changed positions from sitting
to standing.” Pl. Br. at 7. The record does not support
Miller conceded, the ALJ “did a relatively accurate
review of the Claimant's treatment history.”
Id. at 5. Miller has cited no objective diagnostic
studies which the ALJ failed to address, or whose findings
his Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) fails to accommodate.
The ALJ explained which limitations, including the limitation
to light work and positions with a sit-stand option, were
designed to accommodate Miller's neck, R. at 20, lower
back, id. at 21, and knee, id. at 21-22,
are three medical source opinions in Miller's record, two
from consulting physicians and one from a treating provider.
The ALJ gave “partial weight” to the opinion of
the consulting examiner who saw Miller in 2015 and concluded
she was far less limited than the ALJ found in his RFC.
Id. at 23 (“claimant would be able to
occasionally lift and carry 50 pounds and 25 pounds
frequently . . . frequently use foot controls, and . . .
occasionally climb ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes or
scaffolds.”). The ALJ gave “some weight” to
the opinion of the physician who reviewed Miller's
medical records in 2016 and found Miller could perform light
work but imposed fewer limitations than the ALJ. Id.
at 22 (“the claimant would be able to frequently climb
ramps, stairs, and stoop”).
a treating source's opinion is entitled to controlling
weight when it is supported by medically acceptable clinical
and laboratory diagnostic techniques and is consistent with
other substantial evidence in the record, 20 C.F.R. §
404.1527(c)(2), the ALJ gave “little weight” to
the 2018 opinion of Miller's treating physician, Dr. Amir
Fayyazi. R. at 23. Dr. Fayyazi opined that Miller's neck
pain “will most likely result in a decreased level of
function in the foreseeable future.” Id. at
840. The ALJ reasoned that, despite Dr. Fayyazi's
“lengthy treating relationship” with Miller, his
narrative was vague and lacked specific work-related
limitations. Id. at 23.
provided substantial evidence to discount Dr. Fayyazi's
opinion. Phillips v. Barnhart, 91 Fed.Appx. 775, 780
(3d Cir. 2004) (affirming ALJ opinion that discounted
treating physician opinion which, inter alia, failed
to provide specific work-related limitations). Moreover, even
providing additional weight to Dr. Fayyazi's opinion
would not justify remand because it does not support
Miller's contention that she would need to leave the work
station of a job with a sit-stand option whenever she changes
position. Woodson v. Comm'r Soc. Sec., 661
Fed.Appx. 762, 767 (3d Cir. 2016) (affirming ALJ opinion
despite harmless error).
Fayyazi's letter makes clear that he saw Miller to
address only the complaints related to her neck. Id.
at 839-40. He refused her request to fill out a standard
functionality assessment because she did not seek an
examination. Id. at 840. Instead, he recounted her
treatment history, which consisted of two appointments.
Id. The first appointment was in March 2017, when
she told him she sought a second opinion on neurosurgery.
Id. Dr. Fayyazi instead recommended physical
therapy. Id. The final appointment was in October
2017, when Miller came in to discuss surgery and told Dr.
Fayyazi physical therapy had “resulted in increasing
discomfort, ” but left without scheduling
Fayyazi's opinion that Miller's functioning is
affected by her neck impairments is consistent with the
ALJ's opinion, which specifically limits her RFC on this
basis. Id. at 20. Nothing in his opinion supports
Miller's contention that she would need to leave her work
station for five minutes whenever changing positions at a job
with a sit-stand option.
reflects the most that a claimant can still do despite her
limitations. 20 C.F.R. § 1545(a)(1). As long as the ALJ
supported his RFC with “such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion, ” his determination must be upheld.
Biestek v. Berryhill, 139 S.Ct. 1148, 1154 (2019). I
cannot re-weigh the evidence and substitute my own findings
for the ALJ's. Williams v. Sullivan, 970 F.2d
1178, 1182 (3d Cir. 1992).
has cited no objective evidence that the ALJ overlooked that
would require her to walk around every time she changes
position, and the opinion of her treating physician is
consistent with the ALJ's RFC. The ALJ reasonably
accommodated each of Miller's established limitations and
the VE testimony provided substantial evidence that she would
be able to find jobs available in the economy despite her
impairments. Plummer v. Apfel, 186 F.3d 422, 431 (3d
appropriate Order ...