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Dobranyi v. Berryhill

United States District Court, D. Nevada

April 9, 2019

SUSANNE M. DOBRANYI, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          CAM FERENBACH UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter involves Plaintiff Susanne M. Dobranyi's appeal from the Commissioner's final decision denying her social security benefits. Before the Court is Dobranyi's Motion for Reversal or Remand (ECF No. 14) and the Commissioner of Social Security's Motion to Affirm (ECF No. 17). For the reasons stated below the Court recommends denying Burdo's motion to reverse or remand and granting the Commissioner's motion to affirm.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The Fifth Amendment prohibits the government from depriving persons of property without due process of law. U.S. Const. amend. V. Social security claimants have a constitutionally protected property interest in social security benefits. Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 332 (1976). 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) authorizes the district court to review final decisions made by the Commissioner of Social Security.

         The district court will not disturb an Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”) denial of benefits unless “it is not supported by substantial evidence or it is based on legal error.” Burch v. Barnhart, 400 F.3d 676, 679 (9th Cir. 2005) (internal quotation omitted). When reviewing an ALJ's decision, “the findings of the Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive.

         42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Substantial evidence means, “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion” and is defined as “more than a mere scintilla but less than a preponderance” of evidence. Gutierrez v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 740 F.3d 519, 522 (9th Cir. 2014) (internal quotation omitted).

         If the evidence could give rise to multiple rational interpretations, the court must uphold the ALJ's conclusion. Burch, 400 F.3d at 679. This means that the Court will uphold the Commissioner's decision if it has any support in the record. See, e.g., Bowling v. Shalala, 36 F.3d 431, 434 (5th Cir. 1988) (stating that the court may not reweigh evidence, try the case de novo, or overturn the Commissioner's decision “even if the evidence preponderates against” it).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Factual Background

         The ALJ applied the five step sequential analysis pursuant to 20 C.F.R § 404.1520. The ALJ determined that Dobranyi suffered from a severe combination of impairments including degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine and frozen shoulder/left biceps tear. (AR 35).[1] The ALJ examined relevant medical evidence including opinions and reports of a treating physician (Dr. Rita Chuang), opinions of orthopedist Dr. Thomas Kim, opinions of State Agency medical consultants, Ana Hotley, D.O. and Nalini Tella, M.D., and records of medical treatment and visits to physicians. (AR 33-42). The ALJ found that Plaintiff would be able to perform her past relevant work as a keno writer, thus the ALJ denied her social security benefits. (AR 41-42).

         Plaintiff challenges the ALJ's finding based on various diagnoses, new medical records, and the opinions of her medical sources. Plaintiff states that the ALJ failed to consider the long term and on-going disabling effects of Plaintiff's diagnosed conditions. (ECF NO. 17 at p. 5).

         The Commission argues that the ALJ properly weighed the medical evidence, including evidence that Dobranyi is not disabled.

         Discounting the Treating Physician's Opinion

         A treating physician's medical opinion as to the nature and severity of an individual's impairment is entitled to controlling weight when that opinion is well-supported and not inconsistent with other substantial evidence in the record. Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1157 (9th Cir. 2001). “The rationale for giving the treating physician's opinion special weight is that he is employed to cure and has a greater ...


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