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Jesus Antonio Fabilla v. Michael J. Astrue

September 11, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Barbara A. McAuliffe United States Magistrate Judge



Pending before the Court is plaintiff Jesus Antonio Fabilla's ("Plaintiff") motion for summary judgment and the cross-motion for summary judgment of defendant Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner"). Plaintiff seeks judicial review of an administrative decision denying his claim for Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income disability benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d) and 1382c(a)(3)(A).

Plaintiff filed his complaint on November 22, 2010. (Doc. 1.) Plaintiff filed his summary judgment motion on August 1, 2011. ( Doc. 17.) The Commissioner filed his summary judgment cross-motion and opposition on August 24, 2011. (Doc. 18.) Plaintiff filed his Reply Brief on September 8, 2011 (Doc. 20.) The matter is currently before the Court on the parties' briefs, which were submitted without oral argument to United States Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe for findings and recommendations to Chief United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii.


A. Overview of Administrative Proceedings

On December 18, 2006, Plaintiff filed concurrent applications for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income benefits, alleging disability beginning February 1, 2003. (Administrative Record, "AR," at 83-103.) Plaintiff's application was denied on initial review and again on reconsideration. (AR at 68-77.) Thereafter, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (the "ALJ"). On April 8, 2009, Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified before the ALJ. (AR at 40-63.) In a decision dated September 24, 2009, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Act. (AR at 16-29.) The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (AR at 5-7.) Plaintiff then commenced this action for judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

B. Plaintiff's Background

Plaintiff was born on November 11, 1957. (AR at 42.) Plaintiff completed a twelfth grade education, and can read and write. (AR at 43.) Plaintiff currently lives in a duplex with his wife and three children. (AR at 43.) Plaintiff's last working experience involved ownership of a landscaping company in 2001, which Plaintiff quit due to pain in his knees. (AR at 44.)

C. Plaintiff's Testimony At the Administrative Hearing

On April 8, 2009, Plaintiff testified before the ALJ regarding his claim for disability. (AR at 42-63.) Plaintiff was represented by counsel. (AR at 42.) Plaintiff testified to having pain in both legs, specifically, his knees and heels. (AR at 44.) Plaintiff additionally complains of pain in his lower back, hands and fingers. Plaintiff further alleges he suffers from chronic pain, fibromyalgia and restless leg syndrome. (AR at 46-47.)

Plaintiff's daily activities consist of minor household chores and watching television. (AR at 50-51.) Plaintiff walks his daughter to the bus, attends his daughter's sporting events, and sometimes goes for walks to alleviate his pain. (AR at 50-60.) Plaintiff stated that he can lift thirty to forty pounds, and he can sit, stand and walk for thirty minutes at a time. (AR at 52.) Plaintiff also stated he needs to recline for two hours per day. (AR at 53-54.)

1. Vocational Expert Testimony

The ALJ asked the vocational expert ("VE") a hypothetical question which included all of the limitations the ALJ found in his residual functional capacity assessment. (AR at 22, 56-58.) The VE testified that a hypothetical person of Plaintiff's vocational background and residual functional capacity could perform other jobs in the national economy including positions as a cashier, office helper and mail clerk. (AR at 56-58.)

D. Medical History

The entire medical record was reviewed by the Court. (AR at 172-514.) The medical evidence will be referenced below to the extent it is necessary to the Court's decision.

E. ALJ Findings

In reaching his decision that Plaintiff has not been under a disability within the meaning of the Act, the ALJ made the following findings:

1. The doctrine of res judicata conclusively determined Plaintiff's non-disability ...

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