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Paul H. King v. Michael Astrue

July 26, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sandra M. Snyder United States Magistrate Judge


Plaintiff Paul H. King seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying his application for supplemental security income pursuant to Title XVI of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 301 et seq.) (the "Act"). The matter is currently before the Court on the parties' cross-briefs, which were submitted, without oral argument, to the Honorable Sandra M. Snyder, United States Magistrate Judge. Following a review of the complete record and applicable law, this Court finds the decision of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") to be supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole and based on proper legal standards. Accordingly, this Court affirms the Commissioner's determination.

I. Administrative Record

A. Procedural History

Plaintiff has filed multiple claims for disability benefits. On March 21, 2005, after finding that Plaintiff had established a change in his condition since the last prior claim, Administrative Law Judge Patricia Leary Flierl ("ALJ Flierl") again denied Plaintiff's application for disability benefits.

On September 28, 2005, Plaintiff filed an application under Title XVI for supplemental security income, alleging disability beginning September 28, 2005. The claim was initially denied on March 3, 2006, and upon reconsideration on January 22, 2007. Plaintiff requested a hearing on February 7, 2007.

Plaintiff appeared and testified at a hearing on December 6, 2007. In a decision dated April 22, 2008, Administrative Law Judge Michael J. Haubner ("ALJ") denied Plaintiff's application. The Appeals Council affirmed the ALJ's decision on April 12, 2010. On June 10, 2010, Plaintiff filed his complaint in this Court.

B. Factual Record

Plaintiff (born June 30, 1970) last worked as a marble and glass installer on June 30, 1994. He did not remember why he stopped working. He supported himself on general relief.

Plaintiff attended school through the ninth grade. He had no additional education or training.

Plaintiff experienced his first motorcycle accident in 1995, breaking his right clavicle and dislocating his left shoulder. As a result of his injuries, he underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder. He was again injured in a 1999 motorcycle accident.

Plaintiff was able to cook for himself twice a day but required help with chores like vacuuming and dusting. He shopped for groceries twice a week. Plaintiff enjoyed watching television. He drove a standard-shift car.

Plaintiff complains of severe pain in his back, neck and shoulders, dating to his 1995 motorcycle accident. To relieve the pain, he takes Hydro/APAP. Rest sometimes relieves the pain. He reported difficulty grasping things, and described dropping things like water bottles and cigarettes. Because of difficulty grasping pens and pencils, he could only write for about five minutes at a time.

Plaintiff received medical care at the Tulare Visalia Health Care Center, which appears to have monitored his pain medications and treated an unrelated ailment.

Juliane Tran, M.D., evaluated Plaintiff as an agency consultant on January 28, 2006. She reported that following rotator cuff surgery, Plaintiff experienced less subluxation of his left shoulder than previously. Plaintiff experienced burning neck pain which radiated to the occipital region with movement. Movement similarly aggravated Plaintiff's back pain.

Tran described Plaintiff as fairly muscular and able to walk into the examination room without assistance or difficulty. He neither used nor needed an assistive device. He slouched toward his right side when sitting. He displayed fair mobility without painful behavior. His motor strength and grip strength were consistently 5/5.

Tran reported her impression:

1. Status post left shoulder rotator cuff surgery. The claimant has full range of motion in the left shoulder, although some mild tenderness to palpation over the shoulder joint.

2. Right left [sic] clavicular fracture. The claimant has evidence of right mid clavicular fracture but range of motion of the right shoulder is normal.

3. Possible bilateral cubital tunnel syndrome. The claimant has positive Tinel's test in both elbows and sensory exam noting for abnormal sense in the left ulnar nerve distribution up to the left elbow, although in the right upper extremity it is difficult to see a specific nerve pattern.

4. Back pain possible chronic lumbar radiculopathy. The claimant has decreased left patella reflex, however, with a negative straight leg raising test. He may possibly have chronic lumbar radiculopathy, although straight leg raising test was negative. This is indicative of not ...

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