Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.


United States District Court, N.D. New York

August 2, 2005.

BONNIE J. LEWIS, Plaintiff,

The opinion of the court was delivered by: GARY SHARPE, Magistrate Judge


I. Introduction

  Bonnie Lewis alleges that overuse syndrome of the upper extremities and pain have disabled her, and challenges the denial of benefits by the Commissioner of Social Security. Having reviewed the administrative record, the court affirms the Commissioner's decision.

  II. Procedural History

  After Lewis filed for disability insurance and supplemental security benefits in December 1997, her application was denied, and a hearing was conducted by Administrative Law Judge James Johnsen (ALJ). In April 1999, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits, which became the Commissioner's final determination when the Appeals Council denied review on June 9, 2000.*fn1

  On August 11, 2000, Lewis brought this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) seeking review of the Commissioner's final determination. The Commissioner then filed an answer and a certified administrative transcript, Lewis filed a brief, and the Commissioner responded. III. Contentions

  Lewis contends that the Commissioner's decision is not supported by substantial evidence. She claims the ALJ erroneously (1) assessed her residual functional capacity; (2) disregarded the opinion of her treating physician; and (3) disregarded her subjective complaints about pain and disabling symptoms. The Commissioner counters that substantial evidence supports the ALJ's decision.

  IV. Facts

  The evidence in this case is undisputed and the court adopts the parties' factual recitations. See Pl.'s Br. at 2-6; Def.'s Br. at 3-8.

  V. Discussion

  A. Standard and Scope of Review

  When reviewing the Commissioner's final decision under 42 U.S.C. 405(g),*fn2 the court "must determine whether the correct legal standards were applied and whether substantial evidence supports the decision." Butts v. Barnhart, 388 F.3d 377, 384 (2d Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). It does not determine de novo whether a claimant is disabled. See Curry v. Apfel, 209 F.3d 117, 122 (2d Cir. 2000) (citation omitted). Although the Commissioner is ultimately responsible for determining a claimant's eligibility, the actual disability determination is made by an ALJ, and that decision is subject to judicial review on appeal. A court may not affirm an ALJ's decision if it reasonably doubts whether the proper legal standards were applied, even if it appears to be supported by substantial evidence. See Pollard v. Halter, 377 F.3d 183, 188-89 (2d Cir. 2004) (citation omitted); Johnson v. Bowen, 817 F.2d 983, 986 (2d Cir. 1987). "Failure to apply the correct legal standards is grounds for reversal." Pollard, 377 F.3d at 189 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

  A court's factual review of the Commissioner's decision is limited to the determination of whether substantial evidence in the record supports the decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); see also Rivera v. Sullivan, 923 F.2d 964, 967 (2d Cir. 1991). "Substantial evidence . . . means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Schaal v. Apfel, 134 F.3d 496, 501 (2d Cir. 1998) (quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)) (internal quotation marks omitted). It must be "more than a mere scintilla" of evidence scattered throughout the administrative record. Williams ex rel. Williams v. Bowen, 859 F.2d 255, 258 (2d Cir. 1988) (citations omitted). An ALJ must set forth the crucial factors justifying his findings with sufficient specificity to allow a court to determine whether substantial evidence supports the decision. See Ferraris v. Heckler, 728 F.2d 582, 587 (2d Cir. 1984). "To determine on appeal whether an ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence, a reviewing court considers the whole record, examining the evidence from both sides, because an analysis of the substantiality of the evidence must also include that which detracts from its weight." Williams, 859 F.2d at 258 (citations omitted). However, a reviewing court cannot substitute its interpretation of the administrative record for that of the Commissioner if the record contains substantial support for the ALJ's decision. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Rutherford v. Schweiker, 685 F.2d 60, 62 (2d Cir. 1982).

  The court has the authority to affirm, reverse, or modify a final decision of the Commissioner with or without remand. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g); Butts, 388 F.3d at 385. Remand is warranted where there are gaps in the record and further development of the evidence is needed, or where the ALJ has applied an improper legal standard. See Butts, 388 F.3d at 385; Rosa v. Callahan, 168 F.3d 72, 82-83 (2d Cir. 1999); Parker v. Harris, 626 F.2d 225, 235 (2d Cir. 1980). Remand is particularly appropriate where further findings or explanation will clarify the rationale for the ALJ's decision. Pratts v. Chater, 94 F.3d 34, 39 (2d Cir. 1996) (citation omitted). By contrast, reversal and remand solely for calculation of benefits is appropriate when there is "persuasive proof of disability" and further development of the record would not serve any purpose. Rosa, 168 F.3d at 83; Parker, 626 F.2d at 235; Carroll v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 705 F.2d 638, 644 (2d Cir. 1983) (reversal without remand for additional evidence particularly appropriate where payment of benefits already delayed for four years and remand would likely result in further lengthening the "painfully slow process" of determining disability). However, absent sufficient evidence of disability, delay alone is not a valid basis for remand solely for calculation of benefits. See Bush v. Shalala, 94 F.3d 40, 46 (2d Cir. 1996) (citation omitted).

  B. Five-Step Disability Determination

  A plaintiff seeking Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits is disabled if she can establish that she is unable "to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which . . . has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than twelve months. . . ." 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A), 1382c(a)(3)(A)*fn3 (emphasis added).

  The Commissioner uses a five-step process to evaluate SSDI and SSI claims. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520, 416.920.*fn4 Step One requires the ALJ to determine whether the claimant is presently engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA). 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b), 416.920(b). If so, she is not considered disabled. However, if she is not engaged in SGA, Step Two requires that the ALJ determine whether the claimant has a severe impairment. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c), 416.920(c). If the claimant is found to suffer from a severe impairment, Step Three requires that the ALJ determine whether the claimant's impairment meets or equals an impairment listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, §§ 404.1520(d), 416.920(d). The claimant is presumptively disabled if the impairment meets or equals a listed impairment. See Ferraris, 728 F.2d at 584. If the claimant is not presumptively disabled, Step Four requires the ALJ to consider whether the claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC) precludes the performance of her past relevant work. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(e), 416.920(e). At Step Five, the ALJ determines whether the claimant can do any other work. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(f), 416.920(f).

  The claimant has the burden of showing that she cannot perform past relevant work. Ferraris, 728 F.2d at 584. However, once she has met that burden, the ALJ can deny benefits only by showing, with specific reference to medical evidence, that she can perform some less demanding work. See White v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 910 F.2d 64, 65 (2d Cir. 1990); Ferraris, 728 F.2d at 584. In making this showing, the ALJ must consider the claimant's RFC, age, education, past work experience, and transferability of skills, to determine if she can perform other work existing in the national economy. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(f), 416.920(f); see New York v. Sullivan, 906 F.2d 910, 913 (2d Cir. 1990).

  In this case, the ALJ found that Lewis satisfied Step One because she had not worked since June 6, 1997. (Tr. 14, 20). In Step Two, the ALJ determined that she suffered from overuse syndrome of the upper extremities. (Tr. 14-16, 20).*fn5 In Step Three, the ALJ determined that this impairment failed to meet or equal a combination of impairments listed in, or medically equal to one listed in Appendix 1, Subpart P, Regulations No. 4. (Tr. 16, 20). In Step Four, the ALJ determined that Lewis did not have the RFC to perform her past relevant work as a personal care aide, spooler-inspector at a factory, shirt presser, packer, or battery store counter person. (Tr. 19, 20). In Step Five, the ALJ found that Lewis possessed the RFC to perform the full range of light work,*fn6 with a limitation on pushing and pulling less than twenty pounds with her upper extremities. (Tr. 19, 20). Consequently, he found Lewis not disabled*fn7 and denied benefits. (Tr. 19, 21).

  C. Analysis

  1. Substantial Evidence for Lewis's RFC

  Lewis argues that the ALJ's determination that she had the RFC for light work is contrary to the medical record and her own testimony, and as such is unsupported by substantial evidence. Consequently, she contends that the ALJ erred when he substituted his judgment for that of competent medical sources. Lewis's position is without merit.

  The Regulations define RFC as "what [an individual] can still do despite [her] limitations." 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1545(a), 416.945(a). At the review level relevant here, the responsibility for determining a claimant's RFC rests with the ALJ. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1546, 416.946. An ALJ's RFC assessment is a medical determination that must be based on probative medical evidence of record. See Gray v. Chater, 903 F. Supp. 293, 301 (N.D.N.Y. 1995) (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1513(c), (d)(3)). Accordingly, an ALJ may not substitute his own judgment for competent medical opinion. See Rosa, 168 F.3d at 79; Balsamo v. Chater, 142 F.3d 75, 81 (2d Cir. 1998) (citation omitted). However, as explained below, such is not the case here.

  Lewis contends that the ALJ's finding that she could do light work was solely based on the March 1998 RFC assessment of Dr. Putcha, a reviewing state agency physician. (Tr. 136-43).*fn8 As an initial matter, the ALJ's reliance on this RFC assessment was not improper. "State agency physicians are qualified as experts in the evaluation of medical issues in disability claims. As such their opinions may constitute substantial evidence if they are consistent with the record as a whole." Leach ex rel. Murray v. Barnhart, No. 02 Civ. 3561 RWS, 2004 WL 99935, at *9 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 22, 2004) (citing 20 C.F.R. § 416.927(f); Mongeur v. Heckler, 722 F.2d 1033, 1039 (2d Cir. 1983)); see Saelee v. Chater, 94 F.3d 520, 522 (9th Cir. 1996); Social Security Ruling (SSR) 96-6p. Here, Dr. Putcha's assessment was based on: Lewis's allegation of overuse syndrome; EMG and nerve conduction studies which showed "no definitive evidence" of carpal tunnel syndrome; and improving grip strength. In addition, Dr. Putcha considered X-Rays of Lewis's right wrist and elbow which showed early degenerative arthritis, and X-Rays of the left wrist and elbow which were negative. The doctor also considered Lewis's normal range of motion in her shoulders, elbows, forearms, and fingers. Similarly, Dr. Putcha noted that Lewis had normal strength in her biceps and triceps ("5/5"), no muscle atrophy, normal wrist exam results, intact fine manipulation, and full grip strength ("5/5"). (Tr. 137-38; see Tr. 135, 147, 132-34, 149).

  Dr. Putcha's determination was also consistent with the January 1998 findings of Dr. Singh, an examining physician, which revealed that Lewis, who had wrist pain on extreme range of motion, retained full grip strength; normal range of motion in her upper extremities and spine; and intact bilateral fine manipulation. Dr. Singh's examination also showed negative Phalen's test*fn9 and Tinel's sign*fn10 bilaterally, absence of cervical spine pain or spasm, as well as normal and symmetrical reflexes in her upper extremities. (Tr. 132-34).

  Upon review of the record, Dr. Putcha's assessment is consistent with and supported by the objective medical record, and the ALJ properly relied on it for his determination. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(f), 416.927(f); SSR 96-6p. Moreover, the same records were taken into consideration and amply discussed by the ALJ in his decision. (Tr. 14-16). Accordingly, based on the above, the ALJ's RFC determination was supported by substantial evidence and not erroneous as a matter of law.*fn11

  2. Treating Physician Rule

  Lewis argues that the ALJ erroneously disregarded the opinion of her treating orthopedist, Dr. Meeks. Specifically, she claims that Dr. Meeks' opinion is supported by examination findings made during the course of her treatment, and that the ALJ improperly rejected the opinion based solely on the doctor's failure to cite specific findings. Lewis's arguments are misplaced.

  Generally, the opinion of a treating physician is given controlling weight if it is based upon well-supported, medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques and is not inconsistent with other substantial evidence. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(d)(2), 416.927(d)(2); see Schaal v. Apfel, 134 F.3d 496 (2d Cir. 1998). As already noted, an ALJ may not arbitrarily substitute his own judgment for a competent medical opinion. Rosa, 168 F.3d at 79. Thus, if the treating physician's opinion is not given controlling weight, the ALJ must assess several factors to determine how much weight to afford the opinion: the length of the treatment relationship, the frequency of examination by the treating physician for the condition(s) in question, the medical evidence supporting the opinion, the consistency of the opinion with the record as a whole, the qualifications of the treating physician, and other factors tending to support or contradict the opinion. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(d)(2)-(6), 416.927(d)(2)-(6).

  Moreover, the "ultimate finding of whether a claimant is disabled and cannot work [is] `reserved to the Commissioner.'" Snell v. Apfel, 177 F.3d 128, 133 (2d Cir. 1999) (citation omitted); see 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(e)(1), 416.927(e)(1). "That means that the Social Security Administration considers the data that physicians provide but draws its own conclusions." Snell, 177 F.3d at 133. Thus, a treating physician's disability assessment is not determinative. Id. Where the evidence of record includes medical source opinions that are inconsistent with other evidence or are internally inconsistent, the ALJ must weigh all of the evidence and make a disability determination based on the totality of that evidence. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(c)(2), 416.927(c)(2).

  In a February 1, 1999 letter and contemporaneous examination note, Dr. Meeks opined that Lewis was "permanently markedly disabled, although she [wa]s not totally disabled in the extent that she c[ould] still take care of herself and do routine activities of daily living with adequate rest," and that he "d[id] not believe that she [wa]s able to return to gainful employment." (Tr. 159-60, 169-71). In a medical report dated March 1, Dr. Meeks cited positive impingement sign and negative EMG results, together with shoulder overuse syndrome, as the basis for his prognosis that Lewis was "permanently markedly disabled although not totally disabled." (Tr. 161).*fn12

  In his decision, the ALJ correctly noted that the final determination of disability was reserved for the Commissioner, and therefore the doctor's opinion of total disability was not binding on him. (Tr. 18). The ALJ also found that Dr. Meeks' opinion was not supported by objective findings about Lewis's functional capacities, but was instead based on "non-specific, broad statements" that could not serve as an appropriate or useful medical assessment. (Tr. 18). While the Commissioner's Regulations provide that the physician's medical report "should include . . . [a] statement about what [a claimant] can still do despite [her] impairment(s)" that is based on the physician's findings, they do not prejudice the claimant for her doctor's failure to provide such a specific statement. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1513(b)(6), 416.913(b)(6). Nevertheless, to be entitled to controlling weight, the opinion of a treating physician must be based on well-supported, medically acceptable techniques and consistent with other substantial evidence. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(d)(2), 416.927(d)(2). Thus, while the absence of specific functional findings from the doctor's report did not warrant automatic rejection by the ALJ, it significantly detracted from the weight of the doctor's opinion. Accordingly, the ALJ was not required to accord it greater weight than he did, especially because the opinion was related to Lewis's disability status, a determination exclusively reserved to the ALJ. In addition, the ALJ accorded greater weight to the findings of Dr. Singh and those of the state agency physicians (already discussed), which, according to the ALJ, were more specific. (Tr. 18). Upon review, the record supports this aspect of the ALJ's decision.

  The ALJ further determined that Dr. Meeks' assessment was unsupported by the objective medical record. (Tr. 18). The ALJ's decision shows that he considered Dr. Meeks' examination findings in the context of Lewis's testimony and the objective diagnostic results. (Tr. 14-18). In July 1997, Dr. Meeks assessed that Lewis, who was complaining of right hand and arm pain, had a negative Phalen's sign on the right and positive on the left, and negative Tinel's sign bilaterally. X-Rays of her right wrist and elbow only showed early degenerative changes. She had normal pinprick responses, and almost full ("4/5") grip strength bilaterally. (Tr. 146). An October 1997 EMG study returned normal results showing no definitive evidence of carpal tunnel. (Tr. 149). In November, Lewis had negative Phalen's and Tinel's tests. (Tr. 152). In December, her grip strength had improved, she was neurologically intact, and had full range of motion in her joints. (Tr. 153).*fn13 Lewis continued to report pain, and her grip strength had decreased in February and May of 1998. (Tr. 154-55). In August, her manual motor testing was normal, and she had decreased deep tendon reflexes. (Tr. 164). A September 1998 shoulder MRI revealed an intact rotator cuff complex, a scant inflammation in the rotator interval, and possible signs of adhesive capsulitis. (Tr. 166). On examination in September and November 1998, Lewis had normal range of motion. (Tr. 167-68). In February 1999, Lewis had positive impingement sign bilaterally, tenderness over the right lateral epicondyle, pain with resisted dorsiflection of the right wrist, decreased pinprick sensation in her right thumb and left index and middle fingers, and tenderness in her shoulder-blade area. However, she had bilateral shoulder abduction to 165 degrees (despite claiming inability to do her hair), only mildly decreased grip strength with no significant pain, and grossly normal motor functions. (Tr. 160). Upon review, the ALJ's determination that Dr. Meeks' assessment of total disability was inconsistent with the objective medical record is supported by substantial evidence.

  The ALJ also deemed Lewis's "perceived disability," cited by Dr. Meeks in support of his assessment, an improper basis for a disability determination. (Tr. 18-19). As the Commissioner correctly notes, this "perceived disability" falls short of satisfying the statutory standard. In addition, the Commissioner points to an apparent internal inconsistency in the doctor's opinion. Indeed, while stating that Lewis was "markedly permanently disabled," Dr. Meeks went on to state that she was "not totally disabled" to the extent that she could still take care of herself and do routine daily activities. (Tr. 160).*fn14 Thus, to the extent this opinion was internally inconsistent, it was properly rejected by the ALJ.

  In a related argument, Lewis contends that the ALJ did not properly develop the record because he failed to seek further clarification of the doctor's opinion. Due to the non-adversarial nature of Social Security proceedings, an ALJ has the duty to affirmatively develop the record. See Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 111 (2000); see also Butts, 388 F.3d at 386 (citation omitted). It is well settled that an ALJ is not relieved of this obligation even where the claimant is represented by counsel. See Shaw v. Chater, 221 F.3d 126, 131 (2d Cir. 2000); Schaal, 134 F.3d at 505; Echevarria v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 685 F.2d 751, 755 (2d Cir. 1982). In this case, the record shows that the ALJ took affirmative steps to obtain from Dr. Meeks a detailed assessment of Lewis's functional capacity. (Tr. 116-21). In response, the doctor provided a letter in the form of an opinion and his most recent treatment note, and only filled out the medical report part of the form requested by the ALJ. The ALJ's attempt to obtain the information, together with the doctor's selective response, belie Lewis's speculative contention. Lewis fails to explain what, if anything, the ALJ should have done to obtain the same information Dr. Meeks had already elected not to provide.

  Lewis next argues that the ALJ ignored the opinion of Dr. Masten, an examining orthopedist.*fn15 This contention is misplaced. The ALJ was not required to mention or discuss every single piece of evidence in the record. See Mongeur, 722 F.2d at 1040; Berry v. Schweiker, 675 F.2d 464, 469 (2d Cir. 1982); Miles v. Harris, 645 F.2d 122, 124 (2d Cir. 1981); see also Clifton v. Chater, 79 F.3d 1007, 1009-10 (10th Cir. 1996); Vincent v. Heckler, 739 F.2d 1393, 1394-95 (9th Cir. 1984); Rebeck v. Barnhart, 317 F. Supp. 2d 1263, 1275 (D.Kan. 2004). Where "the evidence of record permits [the court] to glean the rationale of an ALJ's decision, [the ALJ is not required to explain] why he considered particular evidence unpersuasive or insufficient to lead him to a conclusion of disability." Mongeur, 722 F.2d at 1040. Moreover, "[a]lthough required to develop the record fully and fairly, an ALJ is not required to discuss all the evidence submitted, and [his] failure to cite specific evidence does not indicate that it was not considered." Craig v. Apfel, 212 F.3d 433, 436 (8th Cir. 2000) (citation omitted). In this case, a careful reading of the ALJ's decision shows that he did, in fact, consider Dr. Masten's records. (Tr. 14) (citing to the records as a basis for Lewis's diagnosis). Thus, a conclusion that the ALJ failed to review this doctor's records is unwarranted.*fn16

  Accordingly, based on the above, the ALJ did not err in determining that Dr. Meeks' opinion was not entitled to controlling weight, and did not improperly develop the record.

  3. Subjective Complaints

  Lewis claims that the ALJ improperly disregarded her subjective complaints of pain, physical limitations, and other symptoms. The court recognizes the inherent difficulty in evaluating a claimant's credibility without actual physical contact. The ALJ is entitled to evaluate a claimant's credibility and reach an independent judgment regarding subjective symptoms in light of the objective medical evidence and other evidence regarding the true extent of the alleged symptoms. See Mimms, 750 F.2d at 185. This makes the review of an ALJ's credibility assessment particularly onerous and frequently results in significant deference to the ALJ. The ALJ must perform a two-step analysis. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1529; see also Crouch v. Comm'r, Soc. Sec. Admin., No. 6:01-CV-0899 LEK/GJD, 2003 WL 22145644, at *10 (N.D.N.Y. Sept. 11, 2003) (citation omitted). First, based upon the objective medical evidence, the ALJ must determine whether the impairments "could reasonably be expected to produce the pain*fn17 or other symptoms alleged. . . ." 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1529(a), 416.929(a); see Crouch, 2003 WL 22145644 at *10. "Second, if the medical evidence alone establishes the existence of such impairments, then the ALJ need only evaluate the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of a claimant's symptoms to determine the extent to which it limits the claimant's capacity to work." Crouch, 2003 WL 22145644 at *10 (citing 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1529(c), 416.929(c)). Where the alleged symptoms suggest that the impairment is greater than demonstrated by objective medical evidence, the ALJ will consider other factors, such as daily activities, the location, duration, frequency and intensity of symptoms, the type, effectiveness and side effects of medication, and other treatment or measures to relieve those symptoms. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1529(c)(3), 416.929(c)(3); SSR 96-7p. "The reasons for the credibility finding must be grounded in the evidence and articulated in the determination or decision." SSR 96-7p. Accordingly, "[a]n [ALJ] may properly reject [subjective complaints] after weighing the objective medical evidence in the record, the claimant's demeanor, and other indicia of credibility, but must [do so explicitly and] set forth his or her reasons with sufficient specificity to enable [the courts] to decide whether the determination is supported by substantial evidence." Lewis v. Apfel, 62 F. Supp. 2d 648, 651 (N.D.N.Y. 1999) (internal quotation marks, citation omitted); see Brandon v. Bowen, 666 F. Supp. 604, 608 (S.D.N.Y. 1987).

  The court has reviewed Lewis's testimony regarding pain, symptoms, and limitations and the summary of this testimony in the ALJ's decision. (Tr. 30-47, 14, 16); see also Pl.'s Br. at 4-6; Def.'s Br. at 3-4. The ALJ found that while Lewis's impairment might be expected to produce some of the pain and other symptoms alleged, her allegations about the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of her condition were overstated. (Tr. 17). Specifically, the ALJ noted that Lewis's alleged extreme weakness of grip was contrary to objective medical findings revealing only a mild limitation in this regard. In addition, he discredited her claim that she was unable to curl her hair, citing examination findings by Drs. Singh and Meeks that she retained essentially full ranges of motion in her shoulders. Similarly, the ALJ found no support in the record for Lewis's alleged limitations as to sitting, standing, and walking.

  In addition, the ALJ considered Lewis's testimony that she took 1-2 pills of Darvocet a week, and 4-5 pills of extra strength Tylenol a day for her pain. He found that this "modest" use of medication (especially prescription medication) did not support her allegation of disabling pain of 7-8 on a 1-10 scale. The ALJ also noted that Lewis had denied taking any medication during her January 1998 examination by Dr. Singh, which he concluded was inconsistent with her allegation of disabling pain as of June 1997. Based on the above, the ALJ determined that Lewis's allegations regarding the frequency and severity of her symptoms and limitations were not supported by the medical record, not consistent with the range of daily activities she was capable of, and not fully credible. Upon review, the ALJ properly articulated his rationale, which is supported by substantial evidence. See SSR 96-7p. Therefore, the ALJ properly evaluated and disregarded Lewis's subjective complaints.

  VI. Conclusion

  After careful review of the entire record, and for the reasons stated, the Commissioner's denial of benefits was based on substantial evidence and not erroneous as a matter of law. Accordingly, the ALJ's decision is affirmed.

  WHEREFORE, for the foregoing reasons, it is hereby

  ORDERED that the decision denying disability benefits is AFFIRMED; and it is further

  ORDERED that the Clerk serve a copy of this Decision and Order on the parties.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Official citation and/or docket number and footnotes (if any) for this case available with purchase.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.