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Kelli L. Blanchet v. Michael J. Astrue

June 20, 2011

KELLI L. BLANCHET,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gary S. Austin United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Kelli L. Blanchet ("Plaintiff") seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner" or "Defendant") denying her application for disability and supplemental security income benefits pursuant to Titles II and 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 Gary S. Austin, United States Magistrate Judge.*fn1

FACTS AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS*fn2

Plaintiff protectively filed an application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits in March 2007, alleging disability beginning February 1, 2007. AR 121-129. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and on reconsideration, and Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 83-96. ALJ Stephen W. Webster held a hearing on July 17, 2009, and issued an order denying benefits on October 27, 2009, finding Plaintiff was not disabled. AR 9-16. On March 25, 2010, the Appeals Council denied review. AR 1-3.

Hearing Testimony

ALJ Webster held a hearing on July 17, 2009, in Fresno, California. Plaintiff appeared and testified; she was represented by attorney Melissa Proudian. Vocational Expert ("VE") Thomas Dachelet also testified. AR 17-44.

Plaintiff resides in Fresno, California. AR 20-21. She was born May 18, 1968, and currently weighs 220 pounds and stands five foot two inches tall. AR 21. Plaintiff lives with her husband and seventeen year old child. AR 21-22. She is currently receiving food stamps and a welfare benefit of approximately $25 a month. AR 26.

Because she has never had a driver's license, Plaintiff uses public transportation or depends upon her husband for a ride. AR 22. Plaintiff did not receive a diploma for graduating high school nor did she earn a GED. AR 24.

Plaintiff can take care of her personal grooming needs like bathing and dressing. AR 22. She does cooking and "light cleaning." Plaintiff also does the laundry, however, she does not carry the laundry "wherever it needs to go." AR 22.

For perhaps two to three hours a day, Plaintiff watches televison. AR 22. She reads about thirty minutes before going to sleep at night in an effort to relax. AR 22-23. When asked how long she might spend on a computer during the day, Plaintiff indicated that she was currently enrolled in a program to become an office assistant and thus was at school for about six hours a day. AR 23. She attends "Caesar Terrace" school. AR 24. The majority of her time spent in class is spent on a computer. AR 23; see also AR 25. When asked whether she enjoys any hobbies, Plaintiff indicated that she enjoys making arts and crafts items with beads and flowers. AR 23.

Plaintiff is able to attend church and go out to visit family and friends, and "[o]nce in a blue moon" she will go to a movie. AR 23-24.

In 2001 and 2003, Plaintiff worked full time as a waitress. On average she would lift between ten and fifteen pounds at a time. AR 31-32. Prior to that, Plaintiff worked with disabled adults as a certified nursing assistant. The heaviest weight she lifted in that position was about 100 pounds. AR 32-33. After becoming disabled in February 2007, Plaintiff did try to work at a "training shop" for about three hours a day. However, after learning of her disability, she was told that she could not work there without a doctor's note. AR 25-26.

Plaintiff is treated by Dr. Carlos Cordova for her ailments, including left shoulder, back and pelvis injuries, Bell's palsy, and depression and anxiety. AR 26-27. She sees the doctor about every three months and is on medications to control the pain. The medications allow her to "move around" and help "some days." AR 27. Dr. Cordova prescribed a cane and she uses it at all times. AR 28. The cane helps with walking and balance. AR 41.

When asked how long she could sit, Plaintiff indicated she could sit for approximately thirty to forty-five minutes. AR 27. She can stand for about fifteen to twenty minutes. AR 27-28. Plaintiff stated that she cannot lift more than ten pounds because ...


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