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Sandra J. Prim v. Carolyn W. Colvin

March 27, 2013

SANDRA J. PRIM,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



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

ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Sandra J. Prim ("Plaintiff") seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner" or "Defendant") denying her application for disability insurance benefits pursuant to Title II of the Social Security Act. The parties consented to jurisdiction of the Magistrate Judge (Doc. 8, 9) and the matter is currently before the Court on the parties' briefs and submitted without oral argument to Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Overview of Administrative Proceedings

On October 5, 2009, Plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits pursuant to Title II of the Social Security Act, alleging she became disabled on July 12, 2004 due to neck, shoulder, arm, and hand pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, a sleep disorder, carpal tunnel, and nerve damage. (Administrative Record ("AR"), 59, 66, 131.) Plaintiff's application was denied on initial review and again on reconsideration. (AR 59, 66, 73, 95.) Thereafter, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (the "ALJ"). On April 22, 2011, Plaintiff appeared with counsel and testified before the ALJ. (AR 28-56). In a decision dated May 6, 2011, the ALJ determined Plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (AR 16-22.) The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on August 10, 2011. (AR 5-7.) Plaintiff then commenced this action for judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

B. Hearing Testimony

The ALJ held a hearing in Palmdale, California on April 22, 2011. (AR 28.) Plaintiff personally appeared and was assisted by attorney Brian Reed. (AR 28.) Vocational Expert (the "VE") Randi Hetrick also testified.

Plaintiff was born on March 12, 1968. (AR 151.) Currently, Plaintiff lives with her husband and daughter. (AR 44.) Plaintiff completed a twelfth grade education, however, has not received any subsequent education or vocational training. (AR 45-5.)

At the April 2011 hearing, Plaintiff testified that in 2004, she was working at a grocery store unloading and shelving merchandise when she felt a "really bad pain." (AR 35.) She said she had pain in her shoulders and neck and "couldn't do anything [work-wise]." (AR 37.) She testified to being unable to do dishes, cook, make her bed, or push or pull because her pain was "so... debilitating." (AR 38.) At that time, her treatment included medication, such as Darvocet, Ultram, and Naprosyn, and physical therapy. (AR 39.) Plaintiff further testified that, during the relevant period between the Summer of 2004 and Christmas of 2004, she could stand 10 minutes and sit for 5 minutes. (AR 41-42.) Plaintiff had surgery in 2006 to address these concerns, however, Plaintiff testified her condition had not improved as of the date of the hearing. (AR 44.)

Thereafter, the ALJ elicited the testimony of vocational expert Randi Hetrick. (AR 46-54.) The VE stated that Plaintiff's past relevant work was classified as a stocker in a retail grocery store, which is "heavy" work. (AR 46-7.) The VE also stated Plaintiff worked as an order picker, which is classified as "medium" work. (AR 47.)

The VE was asked to consider whether a thirty-six year old individual with a high school education and the following limitations could perform Plaintiff's past relevant work: light exertion; sit/stand at will option; frequent, not repetitive handling and fingering; occasional overhead reach with the right upper extremity; occasional stoop, kneel, crouch; no crawling ("because the crawling typically requires some . . . hyper extension of the neck"); limited to simple and repetitive tasks; and solitary, not team related work. The VE testified such a hypothetical individual could not perform Plaintiff's past relevant work. (AR 47-9.)

The VE was then asked if such a hypothetical individual could perform other jobs in the local economy. The VE testified such an individual could perform other jobs in the local economy, including office helper ...


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