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Yang v. Astrue

October 15, 2009

SHENG YANG, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT

(Doc. 17)

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Sheng Yang ("Plaintiff") seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her application for disability insurance benefits 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 Gary S. Austin, United States Magistrate Judge.*fn1

FACTS AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS*fn2

Plaintiff filed her initial application on February 7, 2005, alleging disability since March 1, 2002. AR 66-71.*fn3 After her application was denied initially and on reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 42-44, 49, 51-56. ALJ Bert C. Hoffman held a hearing on October 4, 2007, and denied benefits on November 26, 2007. AR 12-23, 234-255. On May 22, 2008, the Appeals Council denied review. AR 7-10.

Hearing Testimony

ALJ Hoffman held a hearing on October 4, 2007, in Fresno, California. Plaintiff appeared with her attorney, Ms. Melissa Proudian. Plaintiff was 43 years old at the time of the hearing. She was unsure of her height but she weighed 110 pounds. AR 239. She has nine children between the ages of twelve (12) and twenty-two (22) years old. AR 239. Plaintiff lives with all of her children and her husband. AR 239. Plaintiff's husband is disabled and does not work. AR 239. He has problems with his hearing and is missing all of his fingers on one of his hands. AR 239. Plaintiff's husband has been receiving SSI since coming to this country. AR 239.

Plaintiff attended one year of adult school after she arrived in the United States. AR 241. She does not speak English and she has never worked in the United States. AR 241, 244. Previously, Plaintiff took care of her husband and children. AR 240, 243. However, she has not been able to do so for a long time because she has been sick. AR 240, 243. In October 2004, Plaintiff became very depressed over the death of her son who was shot by a gang. AR 244. Plaintiff spends some of her days in bed. AR 245-246.

Plaintiff has received treatment for her depression. AR 245, 246. She attended individual sessions where Plaintiff discussed her symptoms including her headaches, her chest and back aches, low back pain, and depression. AR 246. At the sessions, she received medicine and then went home. AR 246. The medication made her drowsy and she fell asleep. AR 246.

Plaintiff does not have any hobbies. AR 248. She suffers from depression frequently and has thoughts of suicide. AR 248. Plaintiff attempted suicide one time in the past year but her children told her not to do it again. AR 248-249.

Plaintiff's headaches, chest pain, and back pain cause her the most severe pain. AR 249. When she is in pain, Plaintiff is unable to sit in a chair or stand. AR 249. Instead, she has to lay down. AR 249. She suffers from back pain and headaches constantly. AR 250.

In the past, Plaintiff would cook for her family, but the children do the cooking since she has been sick. AR 246, 250. Plaintiff is unable to clean because she gets dizzy and feels like falling. AR 250. Her children also do the laundry and the grocery shopping. AR 250. Plaintiff goes grocery shopping with her children on occasion when she gets bored. AR 251. Plaintiff attended the Hmong New Year's celebration in the past. AR 251. However, she has not attended since she has been sick and applied for disability benefits. AR 251.

Medical Record

From September 2002 until September 2007, Plaintiff was seen at the Medical Clinic of Dr. Long Thao for pain in her back, chest and head. AR167-173; 220-233. Over the course of several years, Plaintiff was prescribed Motrin and Tylenol. AR 167, 168, 172, 173,220, 223, 230. A paranasal sinus survey performed on August 17, 2005, revealed significant nasal septal deviation. AR 170.

From October 2004 until July 2007, Plaintiff was also treated at the Merced County Department of Mental Health for depression, headaches, back, and chest pain. AR 174-200. On October 21, 2004, a clinical assessment was performed. 198-200. Plaintiff was diagnosed with major depressive disorder with moderate severity. AR 200. It was noted that Plaintiff was taking Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen and Cephalexin at the time of the evaluation. AR 199. Another clinical assessment was completed on November 5, 2004. AR 194-197. Plaintiff was again diagnosed with major depressive disorder, with moderate severity. AR. 197. During the November 5, 2004 assessment, Plaintiff was given a global assessment of functioning ("GAF") score of 45.*fn4 AR 197.

In 2005, Plaintiff attended approximately twelve therapy sessions at the Merced County Department of Mental Health and obtained medications to treat her depression. AR 179 - 193, 208-213. During her treatment there, the staff noted that Plaintiff was depressed, uninterested in life, and rarely participated in community activities. AR 183, 191, 213. Plaintiff was encouraged by staff to rely on her spouse and children for support and assistance when needed, but not to be fully dependant on her family as it was not necessary. AR 186, 193. At various times in her treatment in 2005, ...


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