Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying his application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. For the reasons discussed below, the courtgrants plaintiff's motion for remand, and remands this case for further proceedings consistent with this order.
Plaintiff, born September 12, 1969, formally applied for SSI on October 27, 2005.
Administrative Record ("AR") 56-63. Plaintiff's application alleged that he had been disabled since January 1, 2003 due to kidney problems, back and leg pain, hernia, insomnia, diabetes, and headaches. Id. at 20, 56, 74.The application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, and plaintiff requested an administrative hearing. Id. at 33-45. On June 7, 2007, a hearing was held before administrative law judge ("ALJ") Mark C. Ramsey. Id. at 344-67. Plaintiff had a non- attorney representative and an interpreter at the hearing. Id.
The ALJ issued a decision on February 21, 2008, finding that plaintiff was not disabled.*fn1
Id. at 13-23. The ALJ made the following specific findings:
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 27, 2005, the application date (20 CFR 416.920(b) and 416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following medically determinable impairments: a history [of] renal stones, a history of back pain, etiology unknown, a history of rectal prolapse and nephrolithiasis, and diabetes under good control (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that has significantly limited (or is expected to significantly limit) the ability to perform basic work-related activities for 12 consecutive months; therefore, the claimant does not have a severe impairment or combination of impairments (20 CFR 416.921).
The claimant testified and reports in the record that he is unable to work as a result [of] chronic kidney stones, a hernia and colon problems. The claimant reports he suffers from chronic pain as a result of the above impairments. The claimant has undergone multiple surgeries for kidney stones . . . . In the US, he has undergone laser surgery. The claimant reports he has chronic weakness and dizziness secondary to his multiple surgeries. He also has pain and is able to walk for only 15 to 20 minutes before he must lie down because of pain. As a result of his hernia problem, he has abdominal pain. At times, his stomach is so tender he is unable to touch it.
The claimant reports he is right-hand dominant. He is married. He lives with his wife and three children. His wife works at Wal-Mart. The claimant reports he immigrated to the United States in September of 2004. He has not worked since moving to the United States. He has a 10th grade education. In the past, he has worked as a woodworker in a warehouse. He [has] also worked managing a water boiler at a water district. He stopped working because of his kidney stones.
The claimant reports his wife performs all of the household chores. He assists with cooking three times a week. Occasionally, once every one or two weeks, he shops with his wife at the store. He attends church once a week. He does not participate in recreational activities.
The claimant reports he takes Vicodin once or twice a day for pain. He also takes medications for rectal prolapse. The claimant reports he was on disability in his former country because of his kidney. He [has] undergone six surgeries. The claimant reports that because of his hernia, when he sits, his colon comes out and he experiences bleeding. He does not believe he can perform light work because of pain and weakness and the need to rest. The claimant also reports he has diabetes but this is under moderate control.
The claimant reported in a work history report that he has worked in the past as a shipping processor in a food store; a water boiler; and woodworker[.]
He also completed a headache questionnaire reporting he has headaches on a daily basis [which] last for up to three hours[.] Clearly, if the undersigned were to find the above testimony of the claimant to be credible, a finding of disability would be directed. However, the claimant's subjective complaints, standing alone, do not provide a basis to find "disability," and the undersigned finds that the objective medical evidence, does not support the claimant's allegations of chronic pain, fatigue, weakness, bleeding, or problems standing. Rather, it appears that the claimant is exaggerating the degree of limitations and pain due to his impairments in order to obtain benefits. [The] determination [that] claimant is exaggerating symptoms is based upon the undersign[ed']s review of the medical records. While the record shows the claimant has received treatment for his alleged impairments, records show that treatment has been successful in treating his symptoms and there is no evidence of an impairment which would cause chronic pain, fatigue or pain as alleged by the claimant.
The records document that two months after moving to the US, the claimant sought treatment reporting he required surgery for kidney stones. The claimant also reported a past history of diabetes, rectal problems, and horseshow kidneys and chest pain. An EKG was performed and was normal. Testing did not show evidence of any cardiac impairment[.] Testing confirmed evidence of kidney stones with the congenital deformity of horseshoe kidneys. Surgery was recommended. Prior to surgery, the claimant reported back pain which had gradually been worsening. Surgery, the removal of kidney stones was performed in August of 2005 and twice in September of 2005[.] There have been no other surgeries since 2005.
Progress notes after surgery  show that  the claimant continued to complain of back pain and underwent a period of physical therapy in 2006. However, his pain does not appear to be of a degree which would restrict his ability to work for a consecutive 12 month period and there are no evidence of x-rays of the lumbar spine ...