United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia
December 27, 2016
CHARLIE GOFF WAGONER, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER ADOPTING AND AFFIRMING
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION, DENYING
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND GRANTING
DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
FREDERICK P. STAMP, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
plaintiff, Charlie Goff Wagoner (“Wagoner”),
filed an application for Supplemental Security Income
Benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. In the
application, Wagoner alleged disability since April 30, 2012
due to back, neck, shoulder, and hip problems, depression,
arthritis, high blood pressure, migraine headaches,
“bone tumor on the left forearm, ”
lightheadedness, and “light heart attack.” ECF
No. 7-3 at 2.
Social Security Administration denied Wagoner's
application initially and on reconsideration. Wagoner then
appeared with counsel at a hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”). At the hearing, Wagoner
testified on his own behalf, as did a vocational expert. The
ALJ issued a decision finding that Wagoner suffered from
severe impairments of degenerative disc disease, anxiety, and
major depressive disorder. However, the ALJ found that
Wagoner was not disabled under the Social Security Act.
Instead, the ALJ found that Wagoner had a Residual Functional
Capacity to perform light-level work, with certain
non-exertional restrictions, that exists in significant
numbers in the national economy. Thus, Wagoner's benefits
were denied. Wagoner then timely filed an appeal of the
decision to the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council denied
Wagoner's request for review.
then filed this civil action seeking judicial review of the
ALJ's decision. The case was referred to United States
Magistrate Judge Robert W. Trumble for submission of proposed
findings of fact and recommendation for disposition under 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). Both parties filed motions for
summary judgment. After consideration of those motions, the
magistrate judge entered a report recommending that
Wagoner's motion for summary judgment be denied and that
the defendant's motion for summary judgment be granted.
Wagoner did not file objections to the report and
there were no objections filed to the magistrate judge's
recommendation, his findings and recommendation will be
upheld unless they are “clearly erroneous or contrary
to law.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). Additionally,
because no party filed objections to the report and
recommendation, the parties waived their right to appeal from
a judgment of this Court based thereon. Thomas v.
Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 148-53 (1985).
argues that the ALJ erred by affording “no
weight” to the medical opinions of his treating
physician Kalapala S. Rao, M.D. and his consulting physicians
T.J. Janick, M.D. and Jason Fincham, M.D. He further argues
that the ALJ erred by affording “great weight” to
the opinion of a state agency consulting physician, Fulvio
Franyutti, M.D. Specifically, Wagoner argues that the ALJ
completely rejected his treating and consulting
physicians' opinions without providing adequate analysis
of the regulatory factors for evaluating medical opinions at
20 C.F.R. § 416.927.
magistrate judge correctly noted that the ALJ must
“always consider the medical opinions in . . . [the]
record together with the rest of the relevant evidence . . .
receive[d].” 20 C.F.R. § 416.927(b).
“Generally, [the ALJ will] give more weight to opinions
from . . . treating sources . . . . If . . . a treating
source's opinion . . . is well-supported by medically
acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques and
is not inconsistent with the other substantial evidence in .
. . [the] record, [it is entitled to] . . . controlling
weight.” Id. § 416.927(c)(2). If a
treating physician's opinion is not afforded controlling
weight, the ALJ must evaluate the opinion as it would any
other medical opinion. Id. In evaluating medical
opinions from non-treating sources, the ALJ should consider:
(1) “[h]ow long the source has known and how frequently
the source has seen the individual;” (2) “[h]ow
consistent the opinion is with other evidence;” (3)
“[t]he degree to which the source presents relevant
evidence to support an opinion;” (4) “[h]ow well
the source explains the opinion;” (5) “[w]hether
the source has a specialty or area of expertise related to
the individual's impairment(s);” and (6)
“[a]ny other factors that tend to support or refute the
opinion.” SSR 06-03p at 4-5 (2006); see also
20 C.F.R. § 416.927(c).
magistrate judge correctly concluded that the ALJ adequately
explained his reasoning for rejecting the medical opinions of
Wagoner's treating and consulting physicians. First, the
ALJ explained that he rejected Dr. Rao's opinion because
it was inconsistent with Dr. Rao's own treatment notes.
Second, the magistrate judge concluded that the ALJ
adequately explained that he gave no weight to Dr.
Janick's opinion because there was no evidence in the
record to support it. Third, the magistrate judge concluded
that the ALJ properly explained that he rejected Dr.
Fincham's opinion because it was not supported by his own
treatment notes. Fourth, as to Dr. Franyutti's opinion,
the ALJ explained that he afforded great weight to that
opinion because it was consistent with Wagoner's
treatment history and the objective medical evidence. While
the ALJ did not explicitly discuss each factor of §
416.927 as to each opinion, his reasoning is clear and
traceable to those factors. Accordingly, this Court finds no
clear error in the magistrate judge's conclusions.
above reasons, the magistrate judge's report and
recommendation (ECF No. 15) is AFFIRMED and ADOPTED.
Accordingly, the defendant's motion for summary judgment
(ECF No. 12) is GRANTED and the plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment (ECF No. 10) is DENIED. It is further
ORDERED that this civil action be STRICKEN from the active
docket of this Court.
Clerk is DIRECTED to transmit a copy of this memorandum
opinion and order to counsel of record herein. Pursuant to
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 58, the Clerk is DIRECTED to
enter judgment on this matter.