The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. United States Magistrate Judge
ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT
Plaintiff Marie Walker ("Plaintiff") 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. The matter is currently before the Court on the parties' briefs, which were submitted, without oral argument, to the Honorable Dennis L. Beck, United States Magistrate Judge.
FACTS AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS*fn1
On February 25, 2005, Plaintiff protectively filed an application for SSI. AR 152, 154-55. She alleged disability since December 1, 2003, due to back pain and spasms, paranoia, arthritis, high blood pressure and headaches. AR 88, 153-55, 170. After being denied initially and on reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 88-92, 95-100, 101-02. On October 30, 2007, ALJ James P. Berry held a hearing. AR 25-49. ALJ Berry denied benefits on January 7, 2008. AR 6-17. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on March 26, 2010. AR 1-4.
ALJ Berry held a hearing on October 30, 2007, in Fresno, California. AR 25. Plaintiff appeared with her attorney, Robert Christenson. Vocational expert Thomas Dachelet also appeared and testified. AR 25, 27.
Plaintiff was born in 1957 and has an eleventh grade education. She last worked in 2004 or 2005 doing in-home care for about six months. Prior to that, she worked as a telemarketer off and on for about two years. Since 1990, she has not had any other jobs. As a telemarketer, she answered phones all day. She did not do any lifting or carrying, just sitting. AR 30-21.
Plaintiff testified that her appearance keeps her from working. She cannot sit or walk long. She gets mixed up with her speech and thinks she had a slight stroke in her mouth when working as a telemarketer. AR 32.
Plaintiff reported that she is currently going to mental health because she hears voices and cannot sleep at night. She also has depression and anxiety, with anxiety attacks three or four times a week. She doesn't know what triggers them, but she gets upset everyday. AR 32.
Plaintiff testified that she has pain in her legs and has arthritis. She receives treatment from Hillman Health and from mental health. Her mental health medications, Seroquel and Risperdal, make her drowsy and sleepy. AR 33-34.
Plaintiff admitted that she smoked crack cocaine, but has not used it for three or four months. Before that, she used it two or three times a week. She was able to stop because Mental Health told her that the pills she takes won't work with street drugs. Although Plaintiff testified to being clean and sober for three or four months, she admitted to alcohol use and drinking "a 40" once or twice a week. AR 34-35.
Plaintiff stated that she can lift and carry about ten pounds. She can stand about 15 to 30 minutes and can sit about 30 minutes. In an eight-hour day, she can stand about four hours and can sit about four hours. She can walk about a block. She needs to rest four to six hours in an eight-hour day because of her medication, legs and back. AR 35-36.
Plaintiff testified that she cannot pay attention "that good" and cannot think "that much." AR 37. She can concentrate about 15 to 30 minutes at one time. She has really bad days about four days a week. On a bad day, she can't concentrate and can't seem to get up and "get it together." She can't walk and is mad all the time. AR 37.
On a normal day, she tries to clean up and to cook. She does laundry and her mother helps her. She lives with a friend in a cottage, which is like a motel. The cottage has a kitchenette, but it does not have a washer/dryer. She cannot sweep or vacuum. For fun, she watches TV for at least six hours a day. AR 37-39.
Plaintiff does not have a current driver's license, but drives without it once or twice a month. She is paranoid when driving. AR 39-40.
Plaintiff testified that she hears voices mumbling to her every day and at night. She takes Risperdal for the voices. AR 40. She gets along with other people fairly well, but only has one friend, her mom. Roy, the person she lives with, also is a friend. AR 40-41. She reported that she cannot look for a job because of her mouth. She explained that she could not get help fixing her teeth. AR 41-42.
In response to questions from the ALJ, Plaintiff affirmed that her current medications were helpful. Every other month, they put her dosage up. She also receives individual counseling every two weeks. She supports herself with general assistance. AR 43.
The VE also responded to questions from the ALJ. He described Plaintiff's telemarketing work as sedentary, SVP three, semi-skilled with no transferability. He reported that the work history report reflected the McDonald's work as short-order cook, not cashier. A short-order cook is light, SVP three, semi-skilled with no transferability and cashier is light, unskilled. The in-home health services is medium, SVP three with no transferability. AR 44-45. Plaintiff clarified that she did not cook at McDonald's. She bagged food and ran the cash register. AR45.
For the first hypothetical, the ALJ asked the VE to assume an individual 50 years of age with an eleventh grade education and Plaintiff's past relevant work experience. This individual also retained the residual functional capacity to lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally, 10 pounds frequently and to stand, walk and sit six hours each. This individual retained the ability to perform simple, repetitive tasks, to maintain attention, concentration, persistence and pace, to relate to and interact with others, to adapt to usual changes in the work setting and to adhere to safety rules. The VE testified that such an individual could perform Plaintiff's past work at McDonald's. This individual also could perform the full range of light, unskilled and sedentary, unskilled work. At the light level, representative jobs included a bagger with 31,833 jobs in California, garment worker with 34,065 jobs in California, and grader with 20,878 jobs in California. AR 45-46.
For the second hypothetical, the ALJ asked the VE to assume an individual with the same vocational parameters and severe impairments as the first hypothetical. The ALJ also asked the VE to assume that this individual retained the residual functional capacity to lift and carry ten pounds maximum; sit and stand four hours; and walk one block maximum. This individual would need a rest break four to six hours each day, preferably in the afternoon, and would have difficulty maintaining concentration and attention to task. The VE testified that this individual could not perform Plaintiff's past work or any other jobs in the national economy. AR 46-47.
For the third hypothetical, Plaintiff's attorney asked the VE to assume a person of the same age, education and work experience with a poor ability to maintain attention and concentration. According to the VE, this person could not perform Plaintiff's past relevant work or any other work in the national economy. AR 47.
For the fourth hypothetical, Plaintiff's attorney asked the VE to assume a person with a poor ability to complete a normal workday and work week without interruptions at a consistent pace. The VE testified that this person could not perform Plaintiff's past relevant work or any other work in the national economy. AR 48.
On November 5, 2003, Plaintiff sought treatment at Hillman Health Center for back pain. She demanded codeine for relief, claiming that she had received some in Sacramento, but she did not have a copy of the prescription or empty medication bottle. The treating physician recommended that Plaintiff obtain a lower back x-ray and try anti-inflammatory medication. Plaintiff refused and began accusing the clinic of not giving ...