ALJ adequately discussed consultant’s opinion; record supported by substantial evidence
Thursday, November 7, 2019

ALJ adequately discussed consultant’s opinion; record supported by substantial evidence

By Payroll and Entitlements Editorial Staff

An examining source’s medical opinion may be dismissed or discounted if it  is properly evaluated by the ALJ, who provides specific, legitimate reasons for rejecting it. Here, the claimant argued that the ALJ did not apply the correct legal standard or specifically articulate the weight he gave to certain medical opinions. The record contained several medical opinions concerning the claimant’s mental impairments. One expert performed a consultative psychological examination and opined that the claimant was moderately to markedly impaired in a variety of mental abilities. Another expert testified as an impartial medical expert that the consultant’s report had limited value. The ALJ accepted the consultant’s opinion that the claimant had marked limitations in social functioning, an impairment highlighted by the other experts as well. However, the ALJ assigned little weight to the remainder of the consultant’s opinion, finding it inconsistent with the rest of the contemporaneous medical evidence in the record that showed improvement in the claimant’s symptoms and intact memory. Specifically, the ALJ cited three medical exhibits in support of his conclusion. The claimant argued that the exhibits merely showed isolated instances of improvement and that the ALJ ignored other evidence of his ongoing difficulties with memory and completing work responsibilities. Yet, the court found that the record also contained other evidence supporting the ALJ’s conclusions. The court determined that the ALJ adequately discussed the consultant’s opinion and the conclusions were supported by substantial evidence. Moreover, the ALJ adequately explained how he resolved conflicts between the consultant’s opinion regarding specific work-related mental functions. The denial of benefits was affirmed (Karl J. Putnam v. Commissioner, CA-10, No. 18-1379. October 22, 2019).

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