Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Castillo v. Astrue

July 13, 2010


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



Plaintiff Stella Castillo ("Plaintiff") seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") pursuant to Title II of the Social Security Act. The matter is currently before the Court on the parties' briefs, which were submitted, without oral argument, to the Magistrate Judge for findings and recommendations to the District Court.


On July 16, 2001, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB. AR 317-19. She alleged disability since August 1, 2000, due to left shoulder impingement syndrome, diabetes and depression.*fn2 AR 306, 311, 336. She was last insured for DIB on June 30, 2004. AR 332. After Plaintiff's application was denied initially and on reconsideration, she requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 306-09, 311-14, 315. On April 8, 2003, ALJ James E. Ross held a hearing. AR 722-54. ALJ Ross denied benefits on May 15, 2003. AR 14-23, 649-58. The Appeals Council denied review on October 20, 2003. AR 8-10, 675-76.

Plaintiff filed a civil action. On May 9, 2006, the district court remanded the action to the Commissioner for further administrative proceedings. AR 659-61. On June 17, 2006, the Appeals Council vacated the May 2003 decision and remanded the case to an ALJ. AR 662-64.

On January 25, 2007, ALJ James P. Berry held a hearing, but did not take testimony. AR 919-24. He planned to obtain additional medical expert input. AR 922-23.

On June 27, 2007, ALJ Berry held a second hearing. AR 925-66. ALJ Berry denied benefits on August 27, 2007. AR 637-48. On February 10, 2009, the Appeals Council declined jurisdiction. AR 626-31.

Hearing Testimony

ALJ Berry held a hearing on June 27, 2007, in Fresno, California. AR 925-66. Plaintiff appeared with her attorney, Robert Ishikawa. Jose Chaparro, a vocational expert, also appeared and testified. AR 927.

At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff was 60. She last worked in June 2005 as a senior coordinator for the city. It did not work out. She worked six hours a day, five days a week, for three or four months. She supervised delivery of meals and lunch for seniors. She ensured enough meals were ordered. She also counted money and kept records. It was two hours of sitting and four hours of standing. She earned minimum wage. She stopped working because the pressure from supervisors was too much. AR 929-32.

In 2000, Plaintiff worked at Dollar Tree for about a month. She had a worker's compensation injury. AR 932-33. At one time, she worked for the IRS in data processing and in criminal investigations. She did taxes and talked to customers on the phone. It was a sit-down job. She had to lift and carry files, but no more than 10 pounds. AR 933-34.

In 1991, she lost her little girl. At that time, she had a restaurant business and was self-employed. In the restaurant, Plaintiff worked the front, did payroll, made banquet appointments and supervised waitresses. It was a full-time job, about seven days a week. When she lost her daughter, Plaintiff closed and sold the restaurant. She did not do anything for about a year. She went back to the IRS, but it did not work out. She could not remember how to get on and off the computers. AR 934-35.

Plaintiff injured her left shoulder at Dollar Tree on September 3, 1999. She still has problems with her left arm. She can only lift to about head level. She has pain on the shoulder blade and the rotator. She can grasp, but drops things. She has no control from the rotator to the hand. She cannot lift a gallon of milk with her left hand. AR 936. When asked if she could pick up small objects, Plaintiff testified that there is no contact from her wrist to the tip of her fingers on her left hand. She has no strength to push. She has a housekeeper to clean. AR 937.

She has problems pushing and pulling with her left hand. She has neuropathy and sometimes has a loss of feeling in her left hand. She wakes up in the morning with numbness. It lasts a half hour to an hour. AR 938. She can lift five pounds with her right hand. She always has somebody put her groceries in the car. The heaviest thing she can lift with both hands is a gallon of milk. She can carry a gallon of milk in her right hand for about 10 feet. She is right-handed. AR 939. She is starting to have problems writing. AR 939. It is hard to push a pencil. She can write about 15, 20 minutes. She cannot do keyboarding. She can reach about head level with her right hand, but not all the time or constantly. AR 940.

Plaintiff testified that her neuropathy is down to her feet. It started with her hip and now it is at the bottom of her feet. It is very painful. She takes three pain pills a day. Next week, she will be on four pain pills. She can walk about half a block to a block, but she will rest. She does not use a cane if she is in her backyard. If she is going somewhere or to the mailbox, she will use it. She has been using a cane for over five years. AR 941. Her doctor gave it to her. She was falling a lot. She does not use it inside the house. AR 942.

Plaintiff has been seeing "Dr. Seedow" for 23, 24 years.*fn3 He's a regular medical doctor and she sees him for everything. She sees him once a month for her diabetes. It is hard to keep the diet for her diabetes. She has really been on it, because he scared her. She constantly was drinking Pepsis, and he said keep away from it. She has been without them for about two weeks now. It is working out and controlling her sugar. AR 942-43. She takes medication for her diabetes. She does not have problems following the medication regimens. She is on insulin, too. AR 943.

Plaintiff testified that she has problems with her feet. From her ankle down, they feel like they are broken. It is the neuropathy, which feels like needles are sticking in her from the bottom of the toes. It sometimes lasts all day long. She has good and bad days. She just stays off her feet, elevates them and takes pain pills. It started about three or four months ago. She has had neuropathy for about two years in other places. AR 944.

Plaintiff tells Dr. Acedo about her depression or mental health. He knows all her problems. She has taken Prozac for her mental health. He told her the other day, that if she had to, then go back on it. She is losing her husband. He's dying. He has had several massive heart attacks and his heart is only working 26 percent. It is very hard for her. She has been taking sleeping pills for about three weeks. She cannot sleep and is under a lot of pressure with him. AR 944. He won't accept a caregiver and does not want anybody but her. AR 945. It brings back memories. She lost her 10-year-old. About six years ago, she lost her grandson at 19. He was run over. She lost his mother, her adopted daughter, two years later. Now she is losing her husband. She does not know how she is living. She told Dr. Acedo that she doesn't know why all this happens to her. AR 945.

Plaintiff testified that she has been depressed since she lost her daughter. She has problems concentrating and her memory is getting worse. She can concentrate on something for about an hour. She writes everything down now. If not, she doesn't remember. It's embarrassing. She does not socialize like she used to and isolates herself a lot. She will read, do puzzles or watch TV. AR 946.

Plaintiff testified that when she worked with the senior citizens she had a problem with a manager. She was good with the seniors. She felt she could still do something for somebody. Now when she knows she cannot do it, it's sad. It has been 17 years since she lost her little girl, then to lose an adopted daughter or a grandson and now her husband. AR 947. She sits and cries by herself all the time. She does not do it in front of her husband because she doesn't want to upset him. AR 947. Her symptoms have been like this since she lost her little girl. She always has had them. She went through a lot of psychiatrists, but they don't tell you anything. It's hard to get up. She doesn't sleep with her husband anymore. She is afraid to open the door and see if he's still alive. AR 948.

Plaintiff testified that she can stand 15 minutes with her cane. She thought she could stand about an hour in a whole day. She is sitting most of the day. She will nap when she is real depressed. Her depression pills put her to sleep and she will take a four-hour nap with no problem. She is doing that about twice a week now. The Prozac and the sleeping pills "do not get along." AR 949. She is trying to hold off on the Prozac. AR 949.

Plaintiff lives in a house with her husband. She has a driver's license and drives when she can. She shops for groceries. She does not cook every day. She is not taking Prozac or seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist. AR 950-51.

Her medications are helpful, except for the one that she takes for depression. She is not in her right mind. She feels like a zombie. She has not had any side effects from her medications. She did not think she could sit for six hours a day. She will sit for half an hour, 45 minutes, then she will get up and walk around a little bit. She thought she would be able to sit two or three hours a day. AR 952.

The Vocational Expert ("VE") also testified. He was not clear on Plaintiff's job at the IRS. Plaintiff testified that she did data processing and criminal investigation. AR 953. She would prepare files for the agents. She moved around a lot, going up on her grades. She was six months at one job, nine months at another job. She would apply for certain jobs and her evaluation was very good. When she went back, she just hit bottom. In the last job, she was in collections. She would call the customer and explain penalties and interest. She sometimes wrote letters. AR 954-55.

The VE testified that Plaintiff's job with seniors and supervising delivery of meals appeared to be a limited range of duties, called a case aide, which is light work, semiskilled. The Dollar Tree job is cashier II, which is light work, unskilled. The IRS data transcriber job, a data entry clerk, is sedentary and semiskilled. Her work as a labor union business representative is defined by the DOT as sedentary and skilled. Her job as a companion is light and semiskilled. Her job as a collector is light work, semiskilled. AR 957-58.

Plaintiff acquired skills in her past jobs. For example, the skills included taking care of people like accommodating, clerical skills like operating a ten key, computer or other office machines, mediating, negotiating, maintaining records, dealing with people tactfully, especially difficult people. The VE testified that the case aide and the companion skills would be industry specific. The data entry clerk could transfer to other similar clerical occupations. The collector also could be transferred to similar occupations, like telephone solicitor. AR 958. The clerk skills would transfer to data examination clerk, which is sedentary and semiskilled. There are about ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.