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Fernandez v. Astrue

September 20, 2010

OSCAR FERNANDEZ, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Jay C. Gandhi United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

On October 16, 2009, plaintiff Oscar Fernandez ("Plaintiff") filed a complaint against defendant Michael J. Astrue ("Defendant" or "Commissioner"), the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, seeking review of a denial of supplemental security income and disability insurance benefits. [Docket No. 3.]

On April 20, 2010, Defendant filed his answer, along with a certified copy of the administrative record. [Docket Nos. 12, 13.]

On April 20, 2010, this matter was transferred to the calendar of the undersigned Magistrate Judge. [Docket No. 14.] Both Plaintiff and Defendant subsequently consented to proceed for all purposes before the Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). [Docket Nos. 16, 19.]

Pursuant to an October 23, 2009 case management order, the parties submitted a detailed, 17-page joint stipulation for decision on June 24, 2010. [Docket No. 18.] The Court deems the matter suitable for adjudication without oral argument.

In sum, having carefully studied, inter alia, the parties' joint stipulation, the administrative record, and the prior decisions of the ALJ and this Court, the Court concludes that, as described below, Plaintiff's claim is foreclosed by the administrative res judicata doctrine.Plaintiff fails to provide any evidence of changed circumstances to rebut a continuing presumption of non-disability, which was established only two years ago by this very Court and must be afforded preclusive effect. Thus, the Court affirms the Commissioner's decision denying benefits.

II. PERTINENT FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff has a fourth-grade education and was 53 years old on the date of his administrative hearing. (See Administrative Record ("AR") at 119, 403, 409.) His prior relevant work includes employment as a janitor. (Id. at 25, 431.)

Albeit, during the administrative hearing, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") did note that Plaintiff previously testified that he completed the sixth grade. (See AR at 409.)

Plaintiff has filed three sets of applications for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") pursuant to Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act ("Act"), including the applications at issue herein. (Joint Stip. at 2); 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

On June 15, 2004, Plaintiff filed his second set of applications for DIB and SSI on the basis of hypertension, diabetes, seizures, headaches, and memory loss. (AR at 57.) On November 24, 2006, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's request for benefits ("2006 Decision"). (Id. at 57-76.) On August 4, 2007, the Appeals Council affirmed the ALJ's decision. (Id. at 10.)

Following the Appeals Council's denial, Plaintiff filed an action in this Court, Case No. ED CV 07-6145 JTL, seeking review of the Commissioner's decision denying his claim. (AR at 10.) On August 18, 2008, the Court affirmed the ALJ's decision. (Id.)

On December 31, 2006, Plaintiff filed the current applications for SSI and DIB, claiming that he has been disabled since April 30, 2001 due to seizures, diabetes, high blood pressure, fatigue, pain, and high cholesterol.*fn1 (AR at 90, 119-126, 127-131, 132-134.) Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration, ...


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