The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kahn, District Judge.
In this action, Plaintiff appeals the final determination of
the Defendant denying her claim for disability insurance
benefits. This matter comes before this Court following a
Report-Recommendation filed on March 31, 1999 by the Honorable
Ralph W. Smith, Jr., Magistrate Judge, pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and L.R. 72.3(d) of the Northern District of New York.
See Lewis v. Apfel, No. 98-CV-1392, 1999 WL 184003 (N.D.N Y
March 30, 1999). As no objections have been filed, this Court may
reject the conclusions of the Report-Recommendation only if they
are clearly erroneous or contrary to law. See Fed. R.Civ.P.
72(b), Advisory Committee Notes.
Magistrate Judge Smith found that the Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ") had failed to adequately specify what weight he assigned
to the opinions of the various treating physicians involved in
Plaintiff's treatment according to the factors set out in
20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(d)(2). On review of the ALJ's decision and the
regulation, this Court finds no clear error.
The magistrate judge also found that the ALJ had failed to
adequately analyze whether the pain Plaintiff reported feeling
rendered her disabled according to the applicable regulations and
agency rulings. In this determination, the magistrate judge noted
that the ALJ must first determine the extent of Plaintiff's pain,
based in part on a determination of her credibility,
and then examine whether Plaintiff's symptoms were totally
"An administrative law judge may properly reject claims of
severe, disabling pain after weighing the objective medical
evidence in the record, the claimant's demeanor, and other
indicia of credibility, but must set forth his or her reasons
`with sufficient specificity to enable us to decide whether the
determination is supported by substantial evidence.'" Gallardo
v. Apfel, No. 96 CIV 9435, 1999 WL 185253, *5 (S.D.N.Y. March
25, 1999) (citations omitted). According to the applicable Social
Security Ruling, "[i]f an individual's statements about pain . .
. are not substantiated by the objective medical evidence, the
adjudicator must consider all of the evidence in the case record
. . . [and] make a finding on the credibility of the individual's
statements out symptoms and their functional effects." Social
Security Ruling 96-7P, 1996 WL 374186, *4 (July 2, 1996). In
making this credibility determination,
[i]t is not sufficient for the adjudicator . . .
simply to recite the factors that are described in
the regulations for evaluating symptoms. The
determination or decision must contain specific
reasons for the finding on credibility, supported by
the evidence in the case record, and must be
sufficiently specific to make clear to the individual
and to any subsequent reviewers the weight the
adjudicator gave to the individual's statements and
the reasons for that weight.
The ALJ determined that Plaintiff's statements regarding the
extent to which her pain left her disabled were not "fully
credible as they are not supported by the evidence of record,
clinical findings or claimant's medical treatment." Transcript at
12. The magistrate judge's conclusion that this assessment lacks
the necessary specificity is not clearly erroneous.
The magistrate judge also found that the ALJ failed to provide
substantial evidence for his conclusion that her subjective
symptoms were not totally disabling, and advised that on remand,
the ALJ should consider each relevant function separately and
determine whether it is limited in light of Plaintiff's subject
symptoms before making a final determination regarding
Plaintiff's residual functional capacity. This Court finds no
error in Magistrate Judge Smith's analysis or prescriptions and
accordingly adopts the Report-Recommendation in its entirety for
the reasons stated therein.
ORDERED that the Report-Recommendation is APPROVED and ADOPTED;
and it is further
ORDERED that case is remanded for further proceedings in
accordance with this opinion and the Report-Recommendation; and
it is further
ORDERED that the Clerk serve a copy of this order on all
parties by regular mail.
REPORT RECOMMENDATION AND ORDER
On November 27, 1995, Plaintiff filed an application for
disability insurance benefits pursuant to Subchapter II of the
Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 401 et seq. Tr. 41-43.*fn2
This application was denied after an initial determination, Tr.
56-57, and upon reconsideration. Tr. 69-70. Plaintiff then filed
a request for a hearing on August 21, 1996. Tr. 71-73. Her case
was heard on April 16, 1997 before Administrative Law Judge
("ALJ") Joachim J. Volhard. After considering the facts de novo,
the ALJ rejected Plaintiff's claims in a written decision dated
July 22, 1997. Tr. 10-15. On July 31, 1997, Plaintiff requested a
review of the ALJ's decision by the Appeals Council. Tr. 5. The
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request on June 25, 1998, Tr.
3-4, and the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner. This action followed.
The Court adopts the facts set forth in Plaintiff's brief with