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Linnie Louise Jacobs v. Carolyn W. Colvin

March 15, 2013

LINNIE LOUISE JACOBS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, COMMISSIONER OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Suzanne H. Segal United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

I.

INTRODUCTION

Linnie Louise Jacobs ("Plaintiff") seeks review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the "Commissioner" or the "Agency") to deny her application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") Benefits. The parties consented, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge. For the reasons stated below, the decision of the Commissioner is REVERSED and REMANDED for payment of benefits.

II.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff filed an application for SSI on March 27, 2006, alleging a disability onset date of March 27, 2006. (AR 187). The application was denied on July 13, 2006. (AR 99-103). Plaintiff requested a hearing on August 31, 2006. (AR 104). On October 8, 2008, Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Dean Franks issued a decision denying benefits. (AR 83-89). Plaintiff requested review of the ALJ's decision on December 16, 2008. (AR 143). On December 16, 2010, the Appeals Council vacated the ALJ's decision and remanded the case for further proceedings. (AR 96-98). The case was heard before ALJ Sally C. Reason on April 27, 2011. (AR 63). On May 26, 2011, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. (AR 20-31). The Appeals Council subsequently denied Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision. (AR 1-7). Plaintiff then filed the instant action on April 2, 2012.

III.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff was born on March 5, 1948. (AR 187). Plaintiff completed school through the twelfth grade and can communicate in English. (AR 69). Plaintiff last worked in 1998 as a customer service representative. (Id.). She stopped working after her back "went out" during work. (AR 73). Plaintiff claims that the pain grew worse over time. (Id.). Plaintiff alleges that she can no longer work because she suffers from "chronic pain" in her back, arms and legs. (AR 69-79).

A. Plaintiff's Testimony

Plaintiff testified that she suffers from constant back pain. (AR 72). She claims that her back pain radiates up to her arms, especially her left shoulder, and down through her legs to her feet. (AR 72). Plaintiff also experiences numbness in her lower body. (Id.). Plaintiff claims that she can sit for only twenty to thirty minutes because her back "goes out" and she experiences muscle spasms. (AR 70,

76). In addition, Plaintiff testified that she can walk no more than about half a block to a block and that she can lift only about ten pounds. (AR 76).

Plaintiff also claims that she suffers from headaches, anxiety and depression. (AR 77). Plaintiff experiences headaches everyday. (AR 78). She claims that her headaches stem from her back pain and that her medications help relieve some of the pain. (AR 78-79). Plaintiff also testified that she has trouble sleeping and is tired throughout the day. (AR 77-78). With respect to her depression, Plaintiff has problems dealing with people and has no interest in any activities. (AR 77). She claims that her depression causes her to "shut down" and not deal with anyone or anything. (AR 77).

B. Plaintiff's Medical History

Dr. Kathleen Presutto-Nelson examined Plaintiff on May 26, 2000. (AR 280). In her report, Dr. Nelson noted that Plaintiff had undergone several treatments, including physical therapy, nerve block and medications in connection to her back pain. (AR 280). Dr. Nelson reported possible lumbosacral radiculopathy and possible lumbar disk disease. (AR 281). Between June and September 2000, Dr. Nelson regularly treated Plaintiff with a series of lumbar epidural injections. (AR 265-79). Plaintiff underwent lumbosacral spine surgery on September 13, 2000. (AR 265).

After her surgery, Plaintiff was treated by physicians at Kaiser Permanente. (AR 312-770). Dr. Thomas Stephenson examined Plaintiff on August 13, 2008. (AR 369-72). Dr. Stephenson observed limited range of motion of the lumbar spine and tenderness to palpation and spasms to the lumbar and lumbosacral spine. (AR 371). Dr. Stephenson reported degeneration of the lumbosacral intervertebral disc, spondylolisthesis, and arthropathy of lumbar facet. (Id.).

A July 24, 2008 x-ray of Plaintiff's lumbosacral spine showed spondylolisthesis and degenerative facet joint changes, as well as decreased disc space associated with sclerosis. (AR 342, 370). Moreover, a December 19, 2008 MRI of Plaintiff's lumbar spine showed degenerative changes in the lumbar spine, levoscoliosis, stenosis, and anterolisthesis. (AR 314).

On August 12, 2009, Dr. Gregory Helman reported that Plaintiff experienced left hand numbness and weakness. (AR 644). Moreover, Dr. Helman reported that, although Plaintiff's left arm strength is "5 out of 5," her left arm is weaker than her right. (AR 645). On January 19, 2011, Dr. William Tallakson examined Plaintiff and reported tenderness to palpation over Plaintiff's left shoulder, as well as limited range of motion and a positive impingement test. (AR 689). Finally, a January 22, ...

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