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DOUGLAS N. STANLEY v. MICHAEL J. ASTRUE

November 29, 2010

DOUGLAS N. STANLEY,
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. 2)

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the "Commissioner" or "Defendant") denying his application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") pursuant to Title XVI of the Social Security 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

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was born in 1949 and has a high-school education. (Administrative Record ("AR") 23-24.) Plaintiff previously worked as a machine operator and stopped working on March 1, 2003. (AR 17, 33, 113.) On August 8, 2007, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI, alleging disability beginning on March 1, 2003, due to schizophrenia. (AR 11, 83-90, 113.)

On March 21, 2006,Tulare County Mental Health progress notes indicate that Plaintiff was compliant with his medication, remained active during the day performing household chores, and worked for one week for a friend painting the interior of a home. (AR 197.) Plaintiff "is uncertain if he will search for work at this time because he is retired and receiving a retirement pension." (AR 197.) Plaintiff's reported symptoms included hearing "electrical noise" or "static," which he tolerated because he was "sleeping well at night." (AR 197.)

On June 19, 2006, Plaintiff reported working on construction projects with his brother. (AR 185.) On October 10, 2006, Plaintiff reported that he was helping build fish ponds. (AR 179.)

On September 20, 2007, Plaintiff's treating psychiatrist, Ina Shalts, M.D., completed a "medical source statement" form on which Dr. Shalts assessed Plaintiff's ability to do work-related activities on a daily basis in a regular work setting. (AR 237-38.) Dr. Shalts opined as follows:

* Plaintiff's ability to understand and remember very short and simple instructions was good, but Plaintiff's ability to understand and remember detailed or complex instructions was fair. (AR 237.)

* Because Plaintiff heard voices and experienced visual hallucinations, his ability to carry out instructions and to attend and concentrate was fair, but Plaintiff's ability to work without supervision was poor. (AR 237.)

* Plaintiff interacted primarily with his family, but Plaintiff's ability to interact with the public was poor. (AR 238.)

* Plaintiff's ability to be aware of normal hazards and react appropriately was good, but his ability to use public transportation or travel to unfamiliar places was fair. (AR 238.)

* Plaintiff could manage benefits in his own best interest. (AR 238.)

On October 20, 2007, Sasha Ericksen, M.D., performed a consultative psychiatric evaluation of Plaintiff. (AR 239-43.) Dr. Ericksen opined that Plaintiff was able to do simple tasks, but according to Plaintiff, his symptoms were exacerbated by loud noise. (AR 242.) Plaintiff was able to accept instruction from supervisors and to interact with co-workers and the public. However, "on certain days [Plaintiff's] psychotic symptoms are much worse and may distract him from interacting effectively." (AR 243.) Dr. Ericksen noted that Plaintiff "appears to have a history of performing work activities on a very consistent basis and doing well with his prior jobs." (AR 243.) Plaintiff reported to Dr. Ericksen, however, that "his ...


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