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Social Security Case Rulings week of March 16, 2012

6th Circuit

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit.
March 13, 2012. Affirmed
an ALJ may rely on a Vocational Experts own experience as testimony in determining the number of jobs available for DOT positions with mixed skill or exertional levels (job may be performed as unskilled, semi skilled or skilled or sedentary/light/medium/heavy)
See 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt P, App. 2, § 200.00(d)

11th Circuit


March 13, 2012. REVERSED and REMANDED

the ALJ erred by failing to state with particularity the weight given, and the reasons therefor, to the opinion of Dr.

CAMPORESE v. COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITYMarch 14, 2012. Reversed and Remanded

Treatment notes that contain a description of symptoms, diagnosis, and a judgment about the severity of impairments constitutes a treating source statement in which weight must be discussed and given.  Further “conclusory statements by an ALJ to the effect that an opinion is inconsistent with or not bolstered by the medical record are insufficient to show an ALJ’s decision is supported by substantial evidence unless the ALJ articulates factual support for such a conclusion.”  Here the ALJ issued a conclusory statement and did not state what objective evidence was lacking from the records, which is insufficient to satisfy the the standard of the 11th circuit.

See Poplardo v. Astrue, 2008 WL 68593, *11 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 4, 2008) (failure to specifically articulate evidence contrary to treating doctor’s opinion requires remand); see also Paltan v. Comm’r of Social Sec., 2008 WL 1848342, *5 (M.D. Fla. April 22, 2008) (“The ALJ’s failure to explain how [the treating doctor’s] opinion was `inconsistent with the medical evidence’ renders review impossible and remand is required.”).

March 15, 2012. Affirmed
In this case, the ALJ articulated specific reasons for the weight given to each treating physician and to the claimant’s credibility.  Please note this case reiterates the following
However, an ALJ has no duty to give significant or controlling weight to a chiropractor’s views because, for SSA purposes, a chiropractor is not a “medical source” who can offer medical opinions. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1513, 416.913, 404.1527(a)(2); Crawford v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec.363 F.3d 1155, 1160 (11th Cir. 2004). Further, as stated above, even a medical source’s statement that a claimant is “unable to work” or “disabled” does not bind the ALJ, who alone makes the ultimate determination as to disability under the regulations. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1527(e)(1), 416.927(e)(1).

March 15, 2012. Affirmed
An ALJ does not need to rely on Vocational Expert testimony when the ALJ finds the claimant retains the RFC to do a full range of  medium work.  See Phillips v. Barnhart,357 F.3d 1232, 1241 n.10 (11th Cir. 2004) for the 11th circuit standard on when a VE is required.