The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K.Oberto United States Magistrate Judge
ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT (Doc. 1)
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
Plaintiff was born in 1958 and previously worked from 1994 through 2002 at a wrecking yard as a wrecking mechanic pulling parts from cars, cleaning them, and taking inventory. (Administrative Record ("AR") 40.) In 2004, Plaintiff worked on the loading dock at Foster Farms loading trucks and building pallets. (AR 41.) Subsequently, because of his physical limitations, he was moved to a different position and worked scanning barcodes on boxes. (AR 42.) Plaintiff claims he stopped working for Foster Farms because they could not find any work that did not involve repetitive motion. (AR 43.) On August 16, 2007, Plaintiff filed an application for DIB, alleging disability beginning on February 1, 2005, due to bilateral trigger fingers, diabetes mellitus, hepatitis C, obesity and an adjustment disorder. (AR 105-14.)
On November 6, 2007, Plaintiff was examined by Richard Engeln, Ph.D., a consultative psychologist, who conducted a number of psychological tests. (AR 402.) Dr. Engeln found Plaintiff accepted tasks with good effort and indicated that the scores obtained were an accurate measurement of Plaintiff's functional level. (AR 403.) Based on these tests, Dr. Engeln made the following objective medical findings:
Obtained intellectual measurements are verbal intelligence borderline range, and visual intelligence low average. Mr. Salas achieved the following IQ estimates on the WAIS-III: Verbal IQ = 71; Performance IQ = 85; Full Scale IQ = 76. Working memory, an immediate memory functioning for non-meaningful material, reflecting processing skills, was measured 85, low average. Grapho-motor reproductions were assessed by means of the Bender Gestalt II norms. Mr. Salas achieved a Standard Score of 115, high average, on the Copy Phase; Standard Score of 95, average, on the Recall Phase. Trials A was completed without error. Trials B was done two-thirds of the way through the instrument successfully, then completed with confusion. Other standard scores on the WMS-III were: Immediate Auditory Memory = 66, mild range of mental retardation; but, Delayed Auditory memory = 74, borderline; Auditory Recognition Delayed = 70, borderline; Immediate visual Memory = 78; Delayed Visual Memory = 72, both estimates borderline range. (AR 403.)
Based on these findings, Dr. Engeln diagnosed Plaintiff with an adjustment disorder and alcohol abuse which was reported to be in remission. Dr. Engeln opined that:
Verbally, cognitively, and socially, Mr. Salas is capable of entry level job adjustment, in a context where instructions are unidimensional and normal supervision is provided. Concentration and social skills are adequate for work adjustment. Mr. Salas is able to perform one-to-two step, simple job instructions, but not able to receive complex or technical job instructions. There are no psychological restrictions to job adjustment. Any restrictions to job adjustment would be medical-physical. (AR 404.) (emphasis added).
On December 19, 2007, Raffi Tashjian, M.D., a state agency non-examining physician, reviewed Plaintiff's file. Dr. Tashjian found that Plaintiff was not significantly limited in his ability to understand, remember, and carry out very short and simple instructions, and he was moderately limited in his ability to perform activities within a schedule, maintain regular attendance, and be punctual within customary tolerances. (AR 410.) Dr. Tashjian concluded, based on the evidence in the medical record -- which included Dr. Engeln's opinion -- that Plaintiff could completesimple repetitive tasks. (AR 412.)
On April 18, 2008, Archimedes R. Garcia, M.D., a state agency non-examining physician, reviewed Plaintiff's file. Dr. Garcia affirmed the evaluations of Drs. Engeln and Tashjian, stating that Plaintiff was able to perform simple repetitive tasks. (AR 426.)
B. Administrative Proceedings
The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's application initially on January 7, 2008, and again on reconsideration on April 23, 2008. (AR 76-81.) Subsequently, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (See AR 82-83.) A hearing was held July 28, 2009, before ALJ Michael J. ...