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The Nevada case, Ryan v. Commissioner of Social Sec., 528 F.3d 1194 (9th Cir., 2008), is important for individuals who have a mental health disability.  In the Ryan case, the ALJ disregarded the medical opinion of claimant’s Nevada treating mental health doctors. Ryan’s doctor found she had mental health issues that would impact her at work. For example, the doctor found she had panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. Her doctor also found she could not work due to these problems and that her condition was getting worse.

The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) in the case, did not give full weight to the opinions of two examining psychologists. The ALJ said their opinions were too heavily based on Ryan’s “subjective complaints.” The ALJ also said the opinions were inconsistent with the records of Ryan’s treating physician, a family practitioner. The 9th Circuit found there was no inconsistency. The records of Ryan’s treating physician, if anything, supported the examining psychologist’s assessment that Ryan was incapable of maintaining a regular work schedule.


An ALJ may reject an examining physician’s opinion if it is contradicted by clinical evidence. Bayliss, 427 F.3d at 1216. But an ALJ does not provide clear and convincing reasons for rejecting an examining physician’s opinion by questioning the credibility of the patient’s complaints where the doctor does not discredit those complaints and supports his ultimate opinion with his own observations. Edlund v. Massanari, 253 F.3d 1152, 1159 (9th Cir.2001) (“In sum, the ALJ appears to have relied on her doubt’s about [the claimant’s] overall credibility to reject the entirety of [the examining psychologist’s] report, including portions that [the psychologist] deemed to be reliable.”).

There is nothing in the record to suggest that claimant’s physician, Dr. Randhawa, did not believe Ryan’s description of her symptoms. Nor was there anything in the record which showed Dr. Randhawa relied on those descriptions more heavily than his own clinical observations in reaching the conclusion that Ryan was incapable of maintaining a regular work schedule. Regennitter v. Comm’r Soc. Sec. Admin., 166 F.3d 1294, 1300 (9th Cir.1999) (substantial evidence did not support ALJ’s finding that examining psychologists took claimant’s “statements at face value” where psychologists’ reports did not contain “any indication that [the claimant] was malingering or deceptive”). Ryan v. Commissioner of Social Sec., 528 F.3d 1194 (9th Cir., 2008).


The Court states that the treating physician’s statements must be read in context of the overall diagnostic picture he draws. That a person who suffers from severe panic attacks, anxiety, and depression makes some improvement does not mean that the person’s impairments no longer seriously affect her ability to function in a workplace. Many ALJ’s pick and choose among the treating physician’s opinions, rejecting some credible evidence and accepting the evidence that supports their decision. This is not right. An ALJ should weigh the medical opinions in context with the other medical evidence. Additionally, the Nevada ALJ should compare the doctor’s opinion against the progressive notes. This will show their credibility.


For these reasons, the Court found the ALJ also erred by discrediting the most recent mental health assessment by Dr. Crisp, who diagnosed Ryan with major depression and agoraphobia. This diagnosis is not at odds with other treating records that characterize Ryan as suffering from chronic depression and anxiety in the visit closest in time to Dr. Crisp’s diagnosis. Regennitter, 166 F.3d at 1299; see also cf. Young v. Heckler, 803 F.2d 963, 968 (9th Cir.1986) (“Where a claimant’s condition is progressively deteriorating, the most recent medical report is the most probative.”). And like Dr. Randhawa, Dr. Crisp’s diagnosis also relied on his clinical observations of Ryan.

Most importantly, the 9th Circuit held that the ALJ’s decision was not supported by substantial evidence, and because the record confirms that, if Dr. Randhawa’s assessment were accepted, Ryan could not make an adjustment to perform any other work, the Court reversed and remanded the case for an immediate award of benefits. Sprague v. Bowen, 812 F.2d 1226, 1231-32 (9th Cir.1987). Make sure your treating doctor is willing to write a letter to the SSA about your mental health disability. Your treating medical records are the most important weapon in your fight for benefits. We know how to argue a mental health case for you in front of your Nevada judge. If you have a mental health case, contact Cannon Disability Law today. We can help you win benefits.


Medical record evidence in your disability case is the single most important thing in your SSD case. Building that medical evidence is the best thing you can do to help yourself win disability benefits. At Cannon Disability Law, we can help you build your case. Unfortunately, many people who apply for disability benefits do not understand this simple fact. Instead, they think they can explain their disability to a judge. Then, they think their explanation will win the case. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The law requires the judge in your case to find objective evidence of your disabling impairments in your medical records. The judge must determine if you have a “severe impairment.” This is the finding that will allow the judge to continue with his analysis of your case. If the judge cannot find evidence of a severe impairment in your medical records, then you will not win. Instead, the judge will find that no objective medical evidence supports your testimony. You will, therefore, lose your case.

This is why it is crucial to obtain your medical records. Without them, there is no way to win your case. In Nevada, you are able to obtain your medical records for free or at a low cost. Also, in Nevada, there is free health care for mental and physical impairments. We recommend you look up free Nevada healthcare resources here.


We will use our skills to help you through the disability process. For example, we will help you apply and appeal any SSA denial. It is our goal to win your case. But, it also our goal to make it easier for you. We offer a free consultation. There is no obligation to become a client if you call. You can simply ask questions. We will answer.

It also doesn’t cost you any money to hire us. Why? Because you only pay us an attorney fee if we win your case. This is a contingency fee. It means if we win, you pay us out of your back benefits. If you do not win, you do not pay an attorney fee. How much is the fee? It is 25% of your back benefit. Also, the fee is capped at $6000. You never pay more than the cap. And, 25% of your back benefit is usually less than the cap. You pay the lesser amount.

If there are costs in your case, then you pay them. You pay them because they are your costs and by law, attorneys  cannot pay their client’s costs. However, your costs are usually less than $100. Typically, the only cost for you is to pay for your medical records. Most doctors don’t charge more than $25 to $50 for copies of records. You will owe those costs whether we win or lose your case. But, you pay attorney fees out of your back benefit. However, you do not pay anything from your future benefits. And, you only pay for an attorney fee if we win your case. To hire most lawyers, you have to pay upfront. We don’t work like that. When we win your case, you pay the attorney fee. That is fair for everyone.

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