The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rosalyn M. Chapman United States Magistrate Judge
On May 15, 2008, plaintiff Erick Young filed a complaint seeking review of the decision denying his applications for disability benefits. On October 6, 2008, the Commissioner answered the complaint, and the parties filed a joint stipulation on November 25, 2008.
On May 1, 2006, 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 March 10, 2003, due to neck and back injuries and a learning disability. Certified Administrative Record ("A.R.") 30, 89-96, 134. The plaintiff's applications were initially denied on July 10, 2006, and were denied again following reconsideration on December 22, 2006. A.R. 53-56, 59-64. The plaintiff then requested an administrative hearing, which was held on November 2, 2007, before Administrative Law Judge Lowell Fortune ("the ALJ"). A.R. 27-48, 66. On November 28, 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 April 11, 2008. A.R. 4-6, 21.
The plaintiff, who was born on November 6, 1975, is currently 33 years old. A.R. 30, 89, 94. He has an eleventh-grade education, and previously worked as a warehouse worker and forklift operator. A.R. 25, 30, 122-29, 134-35, 138.
On December 12, 2002, plaintiff injured his neck and lower back in a motor vehicle accident. A.R. 168, 187. On March 22, 2003, Munir Uwaydah, M.D., examined plaintiff and ordered testing to rule out herniated discs. A.R. 187-91. On April 29, 2003, plaintiff had a cervical spine MRI, which was unremarkable. A.R. 182-84. On May 13, 2003, plaintiff had a thoracic spine MRI, which was negative. A.R. 180-81. On June 18, 2003, Dr. Uwaydah, M.D., examined plaintiff and diagnosed him with cervical and thoracic sprains/strains and recommended cervical epidural steroid facet injections. A.R. 177-78.
On April 25, 2003, Stephen P. Mermillion, D.C., examined plaintiff, diagnosed him with acute traumatic cervical sprain/strain associated with decreased range of motion and subluxation and acute traumatic thoracic sprain/strain associated with subluxation, and released plaintiff from treatment, noting that plaintiff still complains of periodic mid-thoracic discomfort when he wakes up in the morning, but the stiffness usually goes away when plaintiff starts moving. A.R. 168-72. Dr. Mermillion noted no other subjective complaints or positive objective findings. A.R. 172.
On August 5, 2003, Brent Pratley, M.D., examined plaintiff, referred him for active physiotherapy, prescribed medication, and concluded plaintiff could return to work part-time with no heavy lifting, repetitive bending or working overhead. A.R. 166-67, 193-95. Plaintiff received physical therapy five times in August 2003. A.R. 173-76. On September 2, 2003, Dr. Pratley re-examined plaintiff, diagnosed him with chronic cervicothoracic and lumbosacral sprains/strains, and opined plaintiff should be restricted from working overhead or prolonged standing. A.R. 162-65.
On June 6, 2006, Thomas Dorsey, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, examined plaintiff, diagnosed him with resolved thoracic and lumbar musculoligamentous sprains and strains, and concluded plaintiff has no impairment-related physical limitations, A.R. 197-200, and on December 21, 2006, non-examining physician R.B. Paxton, M.D., opined plaintiff does not have a severe physical impairment. A.R. 220-21.
The Court, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), has the authority to review the decision denying plaintiff disability benefits to determine if his findings are supported by substantial evidence and whether the Commissioner used the proper legal standards in reaching his decision. Sam v. Astrue, 550 F.3d 808, 809 (9th ...