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Cruz v. Astrue

February 11, 2010


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



Plaintiff Angela Marie Sandoval Cruz ("Plaintiff") seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her application for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI") pursuant to Titles II and 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


Plaintiff protectively filed her applications for DIB and SSI on October 27, 2005, alleging disability since December 31, 2002, due to her left side back, hand and knee injury.*fn3 AR 101-104, 105-107, 128, 136. After being denied initially and on reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 65-68, 72-76, 78. On March 4, 2008, ALJ Michael J. Haubner held a hearing. AR 22-47. ALJ Haubner denied benefits on May 23, 2008. AR 10-21. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on August 26, 2008. AR 4-6.

Hearing Testimony

ALJ Haubner held a hearing on March 4, 2008, in Fresno, California. Plaintiff appeared with her attorney, Melissa Proudian. AR 24. Vocational expert ("VE") Cheryl Chandler also appeared and testified. AR 24, 37-44.

Plaintiff was born in September 1971. She completed the twelfth grade and one Spanish course in college. AR 27-28. In 2002, she did home health care of one person. AR 28.

Plaintiff lives with her husband and four children. Her youngest child is 7 months old. Her oldest child is 15 years old. The other two are 8 and 2 years old. Two children are at home during the day and two are in school. AR 29.

Plaintiff has a driver's license. AR 29. Her husband works full-time outside the home. AR 29-30. She has no restriction on her driver's license. She drives an automatic pick-up truck. She lives in a house. There are three steps to get up inside her house, but no stairs to a second floor or a basement. AR 30. She is able to care for her own personal needs. She brushes her own teeth, puts on her own clothes, showers and bathes herself, and picks up her own utensils and feeds herself. AR 30-31. She has to dress and feed her baby. She has to help the two-year-old child dress and bathe. AR 31.

Plaintiff testified that she cooks or prepares meals twice a day. AR 31. She does dishes every three days. AR 31-32. She goes grocery shopping twice a month. She goes shopping for non-grocery items once every two months. She goes to church once a week. She does not go out to eat. She visits with family or friends once a month. She talks on the phone every day for about twenty minutes. She does not have a cell phone. She does not do any yard work. She does not make her bed and does not change the sheets. Her oldest does the laundry, but Plaintiff does it once a month. Plaintiff sweeps once every two weeks and vacuums once a week. AR 33. She does not mop. AR 33-34. She does not dust the furniture or take out the trash. AR 34.

Plaintiff testified that she helps her children with their homework. Her children get homework everyday. She spends about thirty minutes helping her children. She went to her children's school functions once in the year of the hearing. AR 34.

Plaintiff testified that her conditions are knee problems, low back problems and a history of contusions with her hands. AR 34. She can lift and carry 15 pounds. She can sit for an hour and a half before she has to get up and move around. She can stand for 45 minutes before she has to sit down. She can walk half a block at one time. She has difficulty gripping or grasping things with either hand. She can hold a coffee cup or a pencil for 15 minutes before she has to put it down. She would have to rest for 20 minutes before she could hold something for another 15 minutes. AR 35.

Plaintiff testified that she has to lie down during the day because of pain, fatigue or another reason. AR 35-36. She has to elevate her feet or lie down four hours out of an eight-hour day. She has difficulty concentrating or paying attention to things. The longest she can focus on something is an hour. AR 36.

Plaintiff testified that she does not have any criminal convictions. She is fully compliant with all her treatment and medications. AR 36.

VE Cheryl Chandler also testified. She had an opportunity to review the work history exhibits and was present during the course of the hearing. The VE questioned which of the jobs was SGA. AR 37-38. The ALJ clarified that they were only looking at the 2002 job. The VE asked whether Plaintiff was dispensing medication and doing light nursing care in that job. AR 38. Plaintiff testified that when ...

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