Friday, June 13, 2008

disability - treating physician opinion - hypothetical to VE

Johnson v. Commissioner - 3rd Cir. - June 13, 2008

The Third Circuit affirmed the denial of benefits, rejecting claimant's arguments that (a) the ALJ improperly overlooked treating physician’s opinions and (b) that the ALJ’s disability conclusion was based on the VE's response to "an incomplete hypothetical question."

The court held that the treating physician's opinion was not entitled to controlling weight because it was not well-supported by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques and was not consistent with the other substantial evidence in [the claimant's] case record. The court said that there was "overwhelming" evidence to support to ALJ's findings.

The court said that the ALJ was "entitled" to reject much of the treating physicians' evidence "without explanation" where it was "neither pertinent, relevant nor probative." In failing to cite the doctor's evidence, the court said that the ALJ implicitly rejected it. That rejection did not trigger the ALJ’s duty to give the doctor an opportunity to explain testimony that the record "overwhelming[ly] disputed."

Citing Rutherford v. Barnhart, 399 F.3d 546, 554 (3d Cir. 2005), the court held that hypothetical posed to the vocational expert accurately protrayed the claimant’s impairments that were reflected in the record.