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Her v. Astrue

August 11, 2010

SAO L. HER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT

(Doc. 1)

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the "Commissioner"or "Defendant") denying her application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") pursuant to Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the "Act"). 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3). The matter is currently before the Court on the parties' briefs, which were submitted, without oral argument, to the Honorable Sheila K. Oberto, United States Magistrate Judge.*fn1

PRIOR PROCEEDINGS AND FACTS

A. Prior Proceedings

Plaintiff protectively filed an application for SSI on March 27, 2006, alleging disability beginning March 10, 2004, due to depression, physical body pain, and kidney problems. (Administrative Record ("AR") 11, 75-78.) Following the Commissioner's denial of her application initially and on reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (AR 32-33, 59-60, 63-67, 70-74.)

ALJ Sharon Madsen held a hearing on November 6, 2008, and issued a decision on February 13, 2009, finding Plaintiff not disabled. (AR 8-18, 309-35.) On April 9, 2009, the Appeals Council denied review. (AR 3-5.) Therefore, the ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481.

B. Factual Background

Plaintiff was born in Laos in 1953 and speaks Hmong. (AR 75, 79, 313.) Plaintiff cannot read, write, or speak English. (AR 79.) She previously worked as a zipper sewing machine operator. (AR 18, 101, 329.) Plaintiff indicated in her disability report as part of her application for SSI that the job required her to lift 50 to 60 pounds frequently. (AR 81.) On March 27, 2006, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI payments due to depression, physical body pain, and kidney problems. (AR 11, 75-78.)

On July 11, 2007, Dr. Harvey Biala, a state agency psychiatrist, evaluated Plaintiff's condition by completing a psychiatric review technique form pursuant to 20 C.F.R. § 416.920a(e). (AR 244-57.) Dr. Biala assessed Plaintiff's functional limitations and opined that Plaintiff's activities of daily living were mildly restricted. She had mild difficulties in maintaining social functioning, but had moderate difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or pace. She experienced no episodes of decompensation. (AR 254.)

On the same day, Dr. Biala also assessed Plaintiff's mental residual functional capacity ("RFC"). (AR 236-43.) He opined as follows:

* Plaintiff's ability to understand and remember detailed instructions was moderately limited, but her understanding and memory were not otherwise significantly limited. (AR 236.)

* Plaintiff was moderately limited in her ability to carry out detailed instructions, but her capacity to sustain concentration and maintain persistence was not ...


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