- Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
- Area(s) of Law: Disability Law
- Date Filed: 11-16-2022
- Case #: 21-35890
- Judge(s)/Court Below: Tallman, C.J. for the Court; Nelson, C.J.; & Forrest, C.J.
- Full Text Opinion
Appellant suffered a heart attack, leading her to file a claim for Social Security benefits, which was subsequently denied. Appellant appealed the district court's decision affirming denial of her claim. On appeal, Appellant argued that the administrative law judge (ALJ) erroneously rejected the non-contested opinion of a non-examining physician who supported her claim for benefits because the physician's opinion was the only functional assessment in the record and therefore could not be rejected without a "clear and convincing" reason. Under Social Security regulations, "[o]pinions from treating physicians receive more weight than opinions from examining physicians, and opinions from examining physicians receive more weight than opinions from non-examining physicians." Lester v. Chater, 81 F.3d 821, 830 (9th Cir. 1995). "To reject the uncontested opinion of an examining or treating doctor, an ALJ must provide 'clear and convincing' reasons supported by substantial evidence." Id. at 830. The Court reasoned that, because the physician was not a treating or examining physician, the "clear and convincing" standard does not apply to their opinion. As such, the Court held that the district court properly concluded that the ALJ's denial of benefits was supported by substantial evidence. Affirmed.