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Williams v. Astrue

February 25, 2010


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



Plaintiff Jason D. Williams ("Plaintiff") seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying his 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 Gary S. Austin, United States Magistrate Judge.*fn1


Plaintiff filed an application on or about May 22, 2006, alleging disability since July 14, 2002, due to personality disorders and hypertension. AR 56, 104. His application was denied initially and on reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 56-63, 64-66. ALJ Christopher Larsen held a hearing on January 28, 2008, and issued an order denying benefits on April 12, 2008. AR 10-18, 21-55. On September 26, 2008, the Appeals Council denied review. AR 1-3.

Hearing Testimony

ALJ Larsen held a hearing on January 28, 2008, in Fresno, California. Plaintiff appeared and testified. He was represented by Melissa Proudian. Vocational Expert ("VE") Judith Najarian also testified. AR 21-55.

Plaintiff testified that he is thirty-seven years old, born October 6, 1970. AR 26. He is approximately 5'7" and weighs about two hundred pounds. He is divorced and has no children. AR 27.

Plaintiff does not hold a valid California driver's license; he did not renew his license because he was incarcerated at the time of renewal. AR 27. However, Plaintiff testified he could get his license back since there are no suspensions. AR 28. He is currently able to get around by taking the city bus. AR 28.

Plaintiff's highest grade completed in high school was the eleventh grade. AR. 28. In 1991, he completed some units at a college and subsequently earned an equivalent of a high school diploma. AR 28. Plaintiff has not received any vocational training, but can read and write in English. AR 29.

During the last fifteen years, Plaintiff's work history has been sparse. He last worked in 2006 at the fairgrounds where he parked cars, however, he only held the job for one week. AR 29. While incarcerated in 2005, he worked in "the culinary" where he served on the line for approximately ninety days. AR 32. Plaintiff testified that he was taken off the line because at times he was unable to work due to his "eye" and his "dizziness." AR 32. Plaintiff had difficulty dealing with supervisors and co-workers; he sat away from people at lunch and did not speak to half the people who worked on the line. AR 33. In 1992, Plaintiff worked as a prep cook for a restaurant for approximately four months. AR 30. While employed as a prep cook, Plaintiff testified that the heaviest weight he would have lifted was approximately twenty pounds. AR 30. Plaintiff also testified that he was unable to cope with the authority of the job and felt that he was "a little bit slow" and became frustrated when he was unable to keep up with the pace of the job. AR 30. Plaintiff testified that when gets frustrated, he either hurts himself or others. AR 30. He eventually was let go because he was unable to keep up with the pace. AR 30.

The last time Plaintiff was incarcerated was July 17th, 2007 after he tested positive for methamphetamine while on parole. AR 31. He testified that he was not addicted to methamphetamine and did not use it on a regular basis. AR 31. However, he said that he used methamphetamine on those days he knew he would be taking a urine test because he wanted to go back to prison. AR 31. He further testified that he could not "make it out here in society" and that he "could cope better in prison." AR 31. While incarcerated, Plaintiff believed he was able to get along with the other prisoners, however, he testified that he knew he was not "going to deal with all of them." AR 31. Plaintiff, under the prison's mental health care, was placed in general population in a "triple CMS." AR 31-32. Plaintiff did not have a job while he was incarcerated in 2007. AR 32.

Plaintiff does not believe he could work an eight hour, five day a week job because he suffers from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia; he claims to hear voices and believes he is capable of acting out and hurting people. AR 33. Plaintiff testified that when he heard voices, he would not act out on them as long as he inflicted pain on himself. AR 34. He testified that he would usually either "hit his fist" or apply electricity to his neck. AR 34. He said the last time he applied electric current to his neck was in the summer before he was incarcerated prior to July of 2007. AR 34.

Plaintiff takes Seroquel twice a day, morning and night. AR 44. He also takes Paxil which alleviates his anxiety. AR 44. On Seroquel, Plaintiff is still able to hear voices, but does not act out on them due to a decrease in his anxiety level. AR 36. Plaintiff claims the voices continue to affect his ability to concentrate, despite taking Seroquel. AR 36. When asked about the longest time period he was able to watch television at one time before having to take a break, Plaintiff answered approximately three hours straight. AR 36. However, he was unable to state how long he could watch television and still remember what he saw. AR 36.

Plaintiff testified that he does not read for pleasure or read the newspaper and does not see friends on a regular basis. AR 38. He spends his typical day either sitting around the house or every now and then lifting weights. AR 38. Plaintiff testified that he spends approximately two hours working out at a time and that he is able to concentrate and focus his attention on what he is doing. AR 38.

Plaintiff testified that he has good days and bad days. AR 39. On good days, he sleeps approximately five hours at night. AR 39. Also on good days, he gets up in the morning and walks approximately three to four miles. AR 39. Yet, when questioned about how many good days he has out of a seven-day week, Plaintiff ...

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