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Joy A. Mcquone v. Michael J. Astrue

August 24, 2012

JOY A. MCQUONE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Joy A. McQuone ("Plaintiff") seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income 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 Dennis L. Beck, United States Magistrate Judge.

FACTS AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

Plaintiff filed her applications in June 2007, alleging disability since May 1, 2006, due to back problems and mental health problems. AR 16, 55-59. After the applications were denied initially and on reconsideration, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). AR 55-59, 60-61, 67. On March 10, 2010, ALJ Jeffrey Hatfield held a hearing in Palmdale, California. AR 25-54. He issued a decision denying benefits on April 16, 2010. AR 13-24. On March 31, 2011, the Appeals Council denied review. AR 6-10.

Hearing Testimony

ALJ Hatfield held a hearing on March 10, 2010, in Palmdale, California. Plaintiff appeared with her non-attorney representative, Diana Wade. Vocational expert ("VE") Randy Hedrick also appeared and testified. AR 25.

Plaintiff testified that she was 32 years old at the time of the hearing. She was married and had two children, ages six and ten. AR 29-30. She completed the eleventh grade and does not have a driver's license. AR 30.

Plaintiff last worked at Von's in 2008 as a pharmacy clerk and floral designer. She only worked for a few days because she re-injured her back. AR 31. Plaintiff had back surgery in 2005 and returned to work with a light duty restriction. AR 32, 35. She re-injured her back in 2006 while she was mopping. AR 32-33.

Though her doctor told her she might need additional surgery eventually, Plaintiff was maintaining her back with pain medication and a self-regulated exercise program. AR 36-37. She can bath herself most of the time and can dress herself without assistance. AR 39. Plaintiff can prepare simple meals, do light cleaning and shop once a month. Standing and walking causes shooting pain and limits her ability to cook and vacuum. AR 39-40. She needs help lifting things while shopping. AR 41. Plaintiff tries to walk two miles a day, three times a week. She needs to stop and rest, however, and it takes her about two hours. AR 43.

Plaintiff testified that she could sit for about an hour before needing to lie down with her feet elevated for 10-15 minutes. She could stand for about 45 minutes to an hour. AR 42. She thought she could lift about five pounds. AR 44.

Plaintiff explained that her pain medications cause memory problems. AR 44. She does not have trouble using her hands and other than her low back and legs, everything is "pretty much okay." She cannot bend. AR 44. Plaintiff has good days and bad days and estimated that she has two or three good days a week. AR 47. On bad days, she rated her pain at an eight or nine out of ten. AR 48.

For the first hypothetical, the ALJ asked the VE to assume a person of Plaintiff's age, education and experience who could lift and carry ten pounds occasionally, less than ten pounds frequently. This person could stand and walk up to two hours, no more than two hours in an eight hour period. Every 30 minutes, this person would need to get off their feet for up to five minutes and then can stand and walk again, but not more than two hours in an eight hour period. This person could sit for six hours in an eight hour period, but every 30 minutes, this person must be free to reposition herself to relieve discomfort. This person could occasionally climb stairs, but could never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolding. This person could occasionally balance and stoop, but could never kneel, crouch or crawl. This person could occasionally reach and work overhead bilaterally and had to avoid concentrated exposure to hazardous machinery and unprotected heights. AR 50-51.

The VE testified that this person could not perform Plaintiff's past relevant work but could perform the full range of sedentary, unskilled work. This includes positions such as order clerk, final ...


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