United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Fort Myers Division
OPINION AND ORDER
E. STEELE SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on consideration of Magistrate
Judge Carol Mirando's Report and Recommendation (Doc.
#19), filed on August 10, 2017, recommending that the
Decision of the Commissioner be affirmed. On August 24, 2017,
plaintiff filed his Objections to Report and Recommendation
Dated August 10, 2017 (Doc. #20).
Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to determine if
it is supported by substantial evidence and based upon proper
legal standards. Crawford v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 363 F.3d 1155, 1158 (11th Cir. 2004) (citing
Lewis v. Callahan, 125 F.3d 1436, 1439 (11th Cir.
1997)). Substantial evidence is more than a scintilla but
less than a preponderance, and is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable person would accept as adequate to support a
conclusion. Moore v. Barnhart, 405 F.3d 1208, 1211
(11th Cir. 2005) (citing Crawford, 363 F.3d at
1158-59). Even if the evidence preponderates against the
Commissioner's findings, the Court must affirm if the
decision reached is supported by substantial evidence.
Crawford, 363 F.3d at 1158-59 (citing Martin v.
Sullivan, 894 F.2d 1520, 1529 (11th Cir. 1990)). The
Court does not decide facts anew, make credibility judgments,
reweigh the evidence, or substitute its judgment for that of
the Commissioner. Moore, 405 F.3d at 1211 (citing
Bloods worth v. Heckler, 703 F.2d 1233, 1239 (11th
Cir. 1983)); Dyer v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d 1206, 1210
(11th Cir. 2005) (citing Phillips v. Barnhart, 357
F.3d 1232, 1240 n.8 (11th Cir. 2004)). The Court reviews the
Commissioner's conclusions of law under a de
novo standard of review. Ingram v. Comm'r of
Soc. Sec. Admin., 496 F.3d 1253, 1260 (11th Cir. 2007)
(citing Martin, 894 F.2d at 1529).
Magistrate Judge recommends that the ALJ provided good cause
for giving little weight to Dr. Galang's March 2011 and
January 2013 opinions on plaintiff's ability to work
based on the medical treatment notes over the course of
treatment indicating to the contrary. (Doc. #12-7, Tr.
417-420; Doc. #12-8, Tr. 491-494.) The Magistrate Judge
further noted the Commissioner's argument that the
January 2013 opinion was a form questionnaire, but the
Magistrate Judge did not conclude that the ALJ rejected the
opinion on this basis. The Magistrate Judge recommends that
the ALJ's decision to discount plaintiff's
credibility as to his subjective complaints was supported by
Magistrate Judge also recommends finding that substantial
evidence supports the ALJ's finding that plaintiff could
perform his past relevant work because Dr. Galang's
opinions were properly discounted. The Magistrate Judge
further recommends finding no error in the ALJ's reliance
on the testimony of the vocational expert, or the
determination based on the testimony.
objects that the ALJ did not provide explicit and adequate
reasons for rejecting the March 9, 2011 opinion of a treating
physician, Dr. Galang. Specifically that the ALJ failed to
discuss how Dr. Galang's opinion that plaintiff could not
tolerate sitting or standing for more than about 15 minutes
at a time was inconsistent with plaintiff's daily
activities, and that the ALJ failed to discuss what
“other observation” supported rejection of Dr.
Court finds that the ALJ never explicitly rejected the
medical diagnosis or medical opinion of Dr. Galang, but
rather found that the speculation that plaintiff could not
tolerate sitting for more than 15 minutes or that he was
unable to continue his practice was unsupported by the
medical findings, and should be given little weight in light
of plaintiff's daily activities and the ALJ's own
observations of plaintiff. (Doc. #12-2, Tr. 46.)
found that plaintiff's subjective pain complaints were
not fully credible as they were inconsistent with the
totality of the medical evidence. (Id., Tr. 45.) The
ALJ “observed” plaintiff, and noted no obvious
pain or discomfort during the hearing, and noted that he
lacked the general physical appearance of someone who might
have been experiencing prolonged or severe pain.
(Id., Tr. 44.) The ALJ found “the totality of
the supporting medical evidence does not provide clinical
correlation of his symptomology to the degree of debility
alleged with objective findings on examination.”
(Id., Tr. 45.)
hearing plaintiff's testimony, the ALJ noted that
plaintiff had an active driver's license, drives daily,
and runs errands or sees a patient or two before returning
home. The ALJ noted that plaintiff works part-time at his
psychology practice, for 2-3 hours a day, and that he last
worked full-time in November 2010, but was still seeing
patients in early 2013. (Id., Tr. 42, 44.) The ALJ
went on to note that plaintiff performed housekeeping in
short bursts, prepares simple meals in the microwave,
but does not socialize or go out much due to his
condition, but regularly drives to North
Florida. (Id., Tr. 42-43, 45.) Plaintiff
had no hospitalizations in the previous 12 months, and no
emergency room visits in the previous 6 months.
(Id., Tr. 83.)
concluded that plaintiff's “impairment or
combination of impairments” did not significantly limit
his ability to perform basic work-related activities based on
symptoms “consistent with the objective medical
evidence”, and the observations noted above. (Doc.