Tuesday, February 01, 2011

disability - hypothetical - all limitations - RFC assessment - sec. 1

Smith v. Commissioner - November 2010 (publication just ordered)


Smith‘s main argument is that the hypothetical question did not sufficiently include [the physicians'] conclusions that Smith was moderately limited in the various areas that they noted in Section I of the Mental Residual Functional Capacity Assessment.

As the Social Security Administration‘s guidelines . . . explain, however, Section I is merely a worksheet to aid in deciding the presence and degree of functional limitations and the adequacy of documentation and does not constitute the RFC assessment.‖ POMS DI 24510.060, available at https://secure.ssa.gov/apps10/poms.nsf/lnx/0424510060 (emphasis added). Numerous district courts in this circuit have recognized this point and held that Section I of the form may be assigned little or no weight. See Molloy v. Astrue, No. 08-4801, 2010 WL 421090, at *11 (D.N.J. Feb. 1, 2010). . . Liggett v. Astrue, No. 08-1913, 2009 WL 189934, at *8 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 27, 2009). . . Torres v. Comm’r of Soc. Sec., No. 07-1951, 2008 WL 5244384, at *12 (D.N.J. Dec. 15, 2008)

Therefore, the ALJ's hypothetical accurately reflected [the doctors‘] opinion of Plaintiff‘s condition.‖ (citation omitted)). The District Court also understood this point. See Smith v. Astrue, No. 08 Civ. 2875, 2009 WL 1372536, at *5 (D.N.J. May 15, 2009)

Because Smith cannot rely on the worksheet component of the Mental Residual Functional Capacity Assessment to contend that the hypothetical question was deficient, his argument is without merit.