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Calderon v. Astrue

May 12, 2009

RICHARD CALDERON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosalyn M. Chapman United States Magistrate Judge

OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Richard Calderon filed a complaint on August 14, 2008, seeking review of the Commissioner's decision denying his applications for disability benefits. On December 9, 2008, the Commissioner answered the complaint, and the parties filed a joint stipulation on February 11, 2009.

BACKGROUND

I.

On December 7, 2004, plaintiff applied for disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act ("Act"), 42 U.S.C. § 423, and the Supplemental Security Income program ("SSI") of Title XVI of the Act, claiming an inability to work since December 3, 2004, due to HIV infection, uncontrolled insulin-dependent diabetes, and memory loss. Certified Administrative Record ("A.R.") 16, 66-70, 285-87. The plaintiff's applications were initially denied on April 27, 2005, and were denied again on June 24, 2005, following reconsideration.

A.R. 52-65. The plaintiff then requested an administrative hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge Edward C. Graham ("the ALJ") on January 25, 2007. A.R. 50-51, 296-312. On January 31, 2007, the ALJ issued a decision finding plaintiff is not disabled. A.R. 13-25. The plaintiff appealed this decision to the Appeals Council, which denied review on June 18, 2008. A.R. 4-11.

II.

The plaintiff, who was born on March 1, 1957, is currently 52 years old. A.R. 66, 285, 299. He completed two years of college, and previously worked as a bus driver, dispatcher, and ticket agent/tour guide. A.R. 76-77, 80, 83-84, 90-97, 121, 126, 299-301.

A. Physical Complaints

The plaintiff was involved in a serious automobile accident in 1978, and broke several bones and suffered a cerebral contusion. A.R. 246-272. Since January 24, 2003, plaintiff has received medical treatment at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center ("County-USC"), where he was diagnosed with AIDS and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, among other conditions. A.R. 152-218, 278. On March 8, 2004, plaintiff's diabetes was uncontrolled, A.R. 175, but by September 10, 2004, he was doing well. A.R. 168. On January 7, 2005, plaintiff's diabetes was again uncontrolled, but his AIDS was stable.

A.R. 162. On March 3, 2005, Jan Geisler, M.D., opined plaintiff can occasionally lift and/or carry up to 50 pounds, frequently lift and/or carry up to 10 pounds, stand and walk for 4 hours in an 8-hour day, and sit for an unlimited amount of time. A.R. 132-33.

On March 28, 2005, nonexamining physician S.A. Brodsky, M.D., opined plaintiff can occasionally lift and/or carry 20 pounds, frequently lift and/or carry 10 pounds, stand and/or walk for 3 hours in an 8-hour workday, sit for about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday, occasionally climb ramp/stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl, and can never climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. A.R. 135-44. On April 21, 2005, Dr. Brodsky reaffirmed his prior assessment. A.R. 243.

On April 9, 2005, Rocely Ella-Tamayo, M.D., an internist, examined plaintiff, diagnosed him as having insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and an HIV infection, and found plaintiff has no significant functional impairments. A.R. 219-25.

B. Mental Complaints

On March 29, 2005, Romualdo R. Rodriguez, M.D., a psychiatrist, examined plaintiff, and determined plaintiff had a Global Assessment of Functioning ("GAF") of 70.*fn1 A.R. 144-49. Dr. Rodriguez also opined plaintiff has no psychiatric condition and ...


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