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Ortiz v. Astrue

September 22, 2009

MARIANNE ORTIZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Marianne Ortiz ("Plaintiff") seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her application for supplemental security income pursuant to Title XVI of the Social Security Act. The matter is currently before the Court on the parties' briefs, which were submitted, without oral argument, to the Honorable Dennis L. Beck, United States Magistrate Judge.*fn1

FACTS AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS*fn2

Plaintiff filed her application on April 26, 2006, alleging disability since November 20, 1987, due to manic depression, back pain, heel spurs and stomach ulcers. AR 76-78. After being denied initially and on reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 52, 61-65, 67-71. ALJ Robert Evans held a hearing on October 18, 2007, and denied benefits on November 1, 2007. AR 15-24, 30-40. On March 14, 2008, the Appeals Council denied review. AR 8-12.

Plaintiff was first granted benefits in June 1989. AR 55-57. On August 10, 1999, an ALJ found that Plaintiff's disability continued. AR 43-47. Pursuant to another continuing disability review in 2005, an ALJ found that Plaintiff's disability had ceased. AR 15.

Hearing Testimony

ALJ Evans held a hearing on October 18, 2007, in Palmdale, California. Plaintiff appeared with her advocate, Diana Wade. Mr. Goldfarb, a vocational expert, also appeared but did not testify. AR 30.

Plaintiff testified that she had not worked in the past 15 years and had been on SSI from 1987 through 2005. AR 33. Plaintiff explained that her benefits were not terminated because she had improved, but rather because she failed to make an appointment to turn in her bank statement. Plaintiff did not re-file for reinstatement within one year because she was trying to find an attorney and had no transportation from North Edwards to the Social Security office. AR 38. She has not looked for work since her benefits were terminated because she has no transportation, and because of pain in her back, heel spurs and an inability to stand up for a long time. AR 34-35.

Plaintiff stated that she was disabled because of manic depression, hallucinations, obesity, high blood pressure and because she forgets things. AR 34. She explained that whether she could perform a job where she could sit all day depends on how her back feels. AR 35.

Plaintiff has not been to a doctor since her benefits were terminated because she lost her Medi-Cal insurance and there are no free clinics near where she lives. AR 36. She is supporting herself on food stamps and has not paid rent or utility bills. AR 36.

Medical Record

On August 5, 2006, Plaintiff saw Doojin Kim, M.D., for a consultive orthopedic evaluation. She complained of bilateral feet pain, explaining that she used to get monthly cortisone injections but has not received any since she lost her insurance. She reported that she gets pain from her heel spurs two to three times per week, lasting for 30 to 40 minutes, and rated the pain at a 10 out of 10. Plaintiff reported that she lives with a friend and heats up cans of soup. AR 177.

On physical examination, Plaintiff was described as obese but had no difficulty getting out of her chair, ambulating to the examination room, getting on and off the examination table and getting into and out of the supine position. She could do finger-nose, fine finger movements and toe tap bilaterally. Her tip toe, heel and tandem gaits were normal. Range of motion testing was normal and there were no abnormalities of any joints. Dr. Kim applied pressure to the soles of both feet without any ...


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