917 F.2d 27
NOTICE: Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3 provides that dispositions other than opinions or orders designated for publication are not precedential and should not be cited except when relevant under the doctrines of law of the case, res judicata, or collateral estoppel.
Mari DISCIGRIKYAN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
Otis R. BOWEN, Secretary, HHS, Defendant-Appellee.
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted as to Appellant Oct. 1, 1990.
Submitted on Briefs as to Appellee Oct. 1, 1990.
Decided Oct. 23, 1990.
Before BOOCHEVER, BEEZER and TROTT, Circuit Judges.
This is an appeal from the district court's decision upholding the Secretary of Health and Human Services' (HHS) decision to deny Mari Discigrikyan Supplemental Security Income disability benefits. On appeal, Discigrikyan contends that (1) substantial evidence supported a finding of disabling physical impairments; (2) substantial evidence supported a finding of disabling mental impairments; (3) HHS erred in discrediting Discigrikyan's pain testimony; and (4) HHS erred in applying the medical-vocational guidelines. We affirm the judgment of the district court.
The district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of HHS, affirming its denial of Discigrikyan's application for disability income, is reviewed de novo. Swenson v. Sullivan, 876 F.2d 683, 686 (9th Cir.1989). HHS decisions to deny benefits are reviewed to determine whether substantial evidence supported HHS's findings and whether HHS applied the correct legal standards. Desrosiers v. Secretary of Health and Human Services, 846 F.2d 573, 575-576 (9th Cir.1988).
1. Physical Impairments
The ALJ examined Dr. Cagan's report and found little objective evidence of physical illness save for obesity, minor joint pains, and missing joints in her right hand. In addition, the ALJ noted that Dr. Cagan found Discigrikyan to be "in fairly good health." Thus, substantial evidence supported HHS's resulting conclusion that Discigrikyan did not suffer any disabling physical impairments.
2. Emotional Impairments
In evaluating Discigrikyan's emotional health, the ALJ relied on Dr. Kantarjian's, the treating physician, and Dr. Bedrin's reports: "Both physicians felt that the claimant was suffering from an adjustment disorder with anxiety and depression. However, the prognosis for her recovery was at least fair, and neither physician felt that she would be unable to hold a job." Substantial evidence, therefore, supported HHS's decision that Discigrikyan's emotional problems were not disabling.
3. Credibility Determination
Questions of credibility are solely functions of HHS. Sample v. Schweiker, 694 F.2d 639, 642 (9th Cir.1982). However, HHS cannot reject excess pain testimony without explanation where objective medical evidence establishes the basis for some degree of pain. Swenson, 876 F.2d at 687. As the ALJ concluded that objective evidence only supported the presence of pain and corresponding physical limitations in her feet and right hand, the ALJ properly discredited without explanation Discigrikyan's testimony of pain in other parts of her body. Accordingly, substantial evidence supported HHS's credibility determination.
4. Application of the Medical-Vocational Guidelines
"[T]he fact that a non-exertional limitation is alleged does not automatically preclude application of the grids. The ALJ should first determine if a claimant's non-exertional limitations significantly limit the range of work permitted by [her] exertional limitations." Desrosiers, 846 F.2d at 577 (emphasis added) (citations omitted). The ALJ concluded that Discigrikyan had an adjustment disorder with mixed emotional features of anxiety and depression. Related to this finding, the ALJ noted that due to Discigrikyan's low threshold for stress, she is precluded from "performing complex instructions, working under pressure" and performing "jobs requiring fine motor coordination." Although these non-exertional limitations may somewhat affect her work performance, they do not appear significantly to limit her ability. Therefore, substantial evidence supported HHS's decision to apply the medical-vocational guidelines in its review of Discigrikyan's application.
This disposition is not appropriate for publication and may not be cited to or by the courts of this circuit except as provided by 9th Cir.R. 36-3