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Xiong v. Commissioner of Social Security

July 21, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff Pang Shoua Xiong, proceeding in forma pauperis, by her attorney, Law Offices of Lawrence D. Rohlfing, seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her application for supplemental security income ("SSI"), pursuant to Title XVI of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 301 et seq.) (the "Act"). The matter is currently before the Court on the parties' cross-briefs, which were submitted, without oral argument, to the Honorable Sandra M. Snyder, United States Magistrate Judge.*fn1 Following a review of the complete record and applicable law, this Court concludes that the ALJ properly found Plaintiff ineligible for benefits.

I. Administrative Record

A. Procedural History

On February 24, 2005, Plaintiff applied for supplemental security income ("SSI"). AR 10. Her claims were initially denied on May 16, 2006, and upon reconsideration, on March 23, 2007.

AR 10. On April 19, 2007, Plaintiff filed a timely request for a hearing. Plaintiff appeared and testified at a hearing on June 19, 2008. AR 228-256. On October 15, 2008, Administrative Law Judge Michael J. Haubner denied Plaintiff's application. AR 7-18. The Appeals Council denied review on December 24, 2008. AR 2-4. On February 24, 2009, Plaintiff filed a complaint seeking this Court's review (Doc. 1).

B. Factual Record

Plaintiff, born June 15, 1955, is four feet, two inches tall and weighs 80 pounds. AR 111, 116. She cannot read or write English, and has never been employed outside her home. AR 71, 116, 218. Plaintiff's health problems began after she experienced problems in the delivery of her last child on October 14, 1992. AR 105, 117, 124, 219. Plaintiff came to the United States from Thailand as a refugee in September 2005. AR 65, 219

In an adult function report dated February 18, 2007, Plaintiff described herself as sick and unable to do much daily activity. AR 87. She sometimes washed a few dishes or did light sweeping, but generally did no household chores. AR 87, 89. She no longer gardened. AR 88. She was depressed and unable to concentrate. AR 87-90. Plaintiff performed her own personal care, such as dressing, bathing, hair care, feeding, and toileting herself. AR 88-89. Her adult children assisted her with cooking, shopping, and personal care. AR 88-90. Plaintiff had never taken care of money. AR 91. She did not drive or go places since she could not follow directions. AR 90-92. Plaintiff described herself as easily angered and unable to get along with authority figures, to handle stress, or to handle changes in routine. AR 92-93.

Adult functioning reports prepared by Plaintiff's husband, Cher Doua Yang, on February 18, 2007, and March 26, 2006 are substantially the same as Plaintiff's own reports. AR 95-110.

Dr. Shireen Damania, certified as a psychiatrist and neurologist, examined Plaintiff on behalf of the agency on April 28, 2006. AR 218-221. Dr. Damania described Plaintiff's complaints as anemia, insomnia, poor appetite, fatigue, and depression. AR 219. "The depression she experiences is due to her situation," Damania explained. Plaintiff appeared mildly depressed, but smiled during the interview and demonstrated broad affect appropriate to the conversation. AR 220. She was oriented in time, place, and person. AR 220. She appeared of average intelligence and demonstrated normal memory and attention span. AR 220. Damania opined that Plaintiff could handle her finances in her own best interest with the help of family members. AR 220.

On April 28, 2006, Dr. Rustom Damania, performed a physical examination of Plaintiff for the agency. AR 224. He concluded:

The patient is a 50-year-old female with positive hepatitis B, nonimmune. There are no hepatocellular decompensation signs except for subjective fatigue. She should be able to do light duties such as lifting 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. She should be able to sit, stand, and walk six hours. She does not require an assistive device for ambulation. No postural limitations unless bending, stooping and crouching is done on a very frequent basis. No definite manipulative limitations unless she must reach, handle, feel, grasp or finger on a repetitive, constant basis. No relevant visual impairments. Her communicative impairments would be language problems.

AR 227.

Plaintiff was cooperative and pleasant. AR 220. She demonstrated adequate interpersonal and social skills, and could respond appropriately to co-workers, supervisors, and the public. AR 220-21. She could understand, carry out, and remember simple one- and two-step job directions in an unskilled job. AR 220. As such, she could function in a job setting so long as instructions were presented simply. AR 221.

Dr. Ian Ocrant medically evaluated Plaintiff on May 9, 2006. AR 185-86. He found that Plaintiff's impairments included major depression, weakness, insomnia, poor memory, and an inability to eat. AR 185. Dr. Ocrant opined that medical evidence did not support the level of ...

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