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Dubois v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 14, 2014

LISA ANN DUBOIS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ORDER

CAROLYN K. DELANEY, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying an application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Social Security Act ("Act"). For the reasons discussed below, the court will deny plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and grant the Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, born September 20, 1961, applied for SSI benefits on May 13, 2008, alleging disability beginning January 31, 2007. Administrative Transcript ("AT") 187. Plaintiff alleged she was unable to work due to depression, problems with her back and left leg, issues due to her gastric bypass surgery, osteoporosis, and carpal tunnel resulting in numbness, tingling, and loss of strength in her hands. AT 192. In a decision dated December 16, 2011, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was not disabled.[1] AT 13-21. The ALJ made the following findings (citations to 20 C.F.R. omitted):

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 13, 2008, the application date.
2. The claimant has the following medically severe combination of impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine with radiculopathy or neuropathy in the left leg, history of gall bladder surgery, osteoporosis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, tendinitis, anemia, depressive disorder recurring and severe with psychotic features, borderline personality disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and peripheral neuropathy.
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a wide range of light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b). The claimant is limited to occasional forceful pushing and pulling with her bilateral upper extremities, occasional climbing, balancing, stooping, crouching, crawling and kneeling. The claimant is limited to occasional interaction with the general public and limited to frequent interaction with coworkers and supervisors.
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
6. The claimant was born on September 20, 1961 and was 46 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date the application was filed.
7. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English.
8. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is "not disabled, " whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills.
9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform.
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since May 13, 2008, the date the application was filed.

AT 15-21.

ISSUES PRESENTED

Plaintiff argues that the ALJ committed the following errors in finding plaintiff not disabled: (1) the ALJ improperly assessed the opinions of Drs. Patrick Wong and L.O. Mallare; (2) the ALJ improperly failed to rely upon vocational expert testimony tendered in response to a complete hypothetical question; (3) the ALJ improperly discredited ...


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