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Amador S. Gonzaga v. Michael J. Astrue

February 23, 2011

AMADOR S. GONZAGA,
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 pro se, 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 his application for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") pursuant to Title II of the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). 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 1959 and previously worked as a mechanic. (Administrative Record ("AR") 34, 136, 151.) On November 16, 2006, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB, alleging disability beginning on November 15, 1999, due to low back injury, depression, and diabetes.*fn2 (AR 15, 136-43, 150.)

A. Medical Evidence

1. David Reiss, M.D.

On March 25, 2004, Dr. Reiss, a psychiatrist, opined that Plaintiff was in need of mental health treatment. (Doc. 12-1 at 7.) Dr. Reiss opined that the "mental health treatment should be provided on an industrial basis, if and only if, and for as long as, it is determined that [Plaintiff] continues to suffer significant pain and impairment due to industrially-related physiologically-based orthopedic/neurological factors, and/or it is determined that [Plaintiff] requires ongoing pain management on an industrial basis." (Doc. 12-1 at 7.)

2. Francisco Montalvo, M.D., Ph.D.

On June 8, 2004, Dr. Montalvo in a psychiatric evaluation of Plaintiff opined that Plaintiff suffered from "major depression -- severe." (Doc. 12-1 at 8-13.) Plaintiff "suffers [from] poor concentration, depressed facies, nightly nightmares, and sexual intercourse is down to one time per month from three to four times a week." (Doc. 12-1 at 12.) Further, Plaintiff "suffers [from] depressed mood, anxiety, insomnia, nightmares, [and] is withdrawn and irritable. He suffers [from] loss of libido, and low back pain radiating down his legs." (Doc. 12-1 at 12.)

3. Suzanne M. Chaves, M.D.

Treatment notes in March and April 2005 after Plaintiff was last insured for DIB indicate that Plaintiff refused diabetes education and was not compliant with treatment. (AR 213-14.) On August 4, 2006, Dr. Chaves noted that Plaintiff had not been checking his blood sugar until one month earlier and that Plaintiff was oriented with intact vision. (AR 328-29.) Treatment notes also indicated improvement in Plaintiff's condition. (AR 329.)

4. State Agency Physicians

On January 23, 2007, E.E. Wong, M.D., a state agency physician, assessed Plaintiff's physical residual functional capacity ("RFC").*fn3 (AR 292-99.) Dr. Wong opined that Plaintiff could

(1) occasionally lift and/or carry 50 pounds and frequently 25 pounds; (2) stand and/or walk for a total of about six hours in an eight-hour workday; (3) sit for about six hours in an eight-hour workday; and (4) perform unlimited pushing and/or pulling with the upper and lower extremities. (AR 293.) Plaintiff could occasionally stoop and crouch and frequently climb, balance, kneel, and crawl. (AR 294.) Plaintiff had no manipulative, visual, communicative, or environmental limitations. (AR 294-95.) Dr. Wong found no evidence that Plaintiff's condition had materially changed since September 27, 2004. (AR 299.)

On February 15, 2007, Archimedes R. Garcia, M.D., a state agency psychiatrist, completed a psychiatric review technique form in which Dr. Garcia opined that there was insufficient evidence that Plaintiff suffered from a medically determinable mental impairment. (AR 300.)

B. Administrative Hearing

The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's application initially and again on reconsideration; consequently, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (AR 76-89, 97-107.) On October 2, 2008, ALJ Bert C. Hoffman, Jr., held a hearing ...


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