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Weight to be given evidence must be reflected in ALJ's decision, holds 9th Circuit

A claimant's subjective complaints of pain must be taken into account by an ALJ when determining residual functional capacity (RFC). Here, using boilerplate language, the ALJ did not credit the claimant's testimony regarding the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of his symptoms to the extent the testimony was inconsistent with the RFC finding. The court found that the ALJ's approach was inconsistent with Social Security regulations because it failed to provide clear and convincing reasons for rejecting the claimant's symptom testimony. Further, the court concluded that the ALJ's analysis was illogical. Because symptom testimony must be taken into account when an ALJ assesses a claimant's RFC, it cannot be discredited because it is inconsistent with that RFC. The court noted that the use of boilerplate language in this circumstance subverted the way an RFC must be determined. Although use of boilerplate language is not necessarily reversible error, the ALJ in this case failed to give clear and convincing reasons for rejecting the claimant's testimony regarding the severity of his pain. Therefore, those limitations should have been included in the RFC assessment. The decision of the district court affirming the ALJ's denial of benefits was reversed and the case was remanded (Bernard Laborin v. Berryhill, CA-9, No. 15-15776, August 16, 2017).