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Garcia v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 17, 2014

PATRICIA GARCIA, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S SOCIAL SECURITY APPEAL

STANLEY A. BOONE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Patricia Garcia ("Plaintiff") filed this action seeking judicial review of the final decision of Defendant Commissioner of Social Security ("Defendant" or "Commissioner") denying Plaintiff's application for benefits under the Social Security Act. (ECF No. 1.) All parties have consented to the jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge for all purposes. (ECF Nos. 6, 8.)

Plaintiff applied for Social Security benefits due to impairments stemming from issues with her shoulder, fingers, wrist, and left knee Hepatitis C, coagulopathy, hypertension, depression, and anxiety. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's appeal from the final decision of the Commissioner is denied.

I.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND[1]

Plaintiff applied for Supplemental Security Income benefits on October 29, 2009. (AR 127.) Plaintiff's application was denied on February 4, 2010. (AR 66.) Plaintiff requested reconsideration of the denial on February 10, 2010. (AR 75.) Plaintiff's application was denied after reconsideration on July 13, 2010. (AR 83.) On July 27, 2010, Plaintiff requested a hearing. (AR 92.)

On August 9, 2011, a hearing took place before Administrative Law Judge Thomas J. Gaye ("the ALJ"). (AR 21.) On August 24, 2011, the ALJ issued a written decision and found that Plaintiff was not disabled. (AR 5-16.) The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on June 10, 2013. (AR. 1.)

A. Hearing Testimony

Plaintiff was born on September 19, 1956. (AR 26.) Plaintiff is unmarried and has no children. (AR 27.) At the time of the hearing, Plaintiff was staying with a friend and receiving assistance from her sister and people from her church. (AR 27.)

Plaintiff went to Bakersfield College off and on for a year, but did not receive a degree or any type of certification. (AR 28.) In 2001, Plaintiff went through vocational rehabilitation and received training on how to use a computer. (AR 28.)

Plaintiff worked for a courier for two months until she hurt her knee. (AR 30.) Plaintiff cannot work because of her knee issues as well as "reflex sympathy dystrophy" in her left hand, her fingers will not bend, she cannot reach high with her arms, has pain, and cannot use one hand. (AR 30-31.)

Plaintiff attends church activities and does favors for other church members, such as driving to the beauty shop and helping an older couple because the husband is blind. (AR 31.) Plaintiff usually eats microwaved TV dinners. (AR 32.) Plaintiff's roommate does most of the chores around the house. (AR 32.) Plaintiff washes her own laundry. (AR 32.)

Plaintiff testified that she cannot use her left hand at all. (AR 33.) Plaintiff drives with one hand and can only drive for about an hour because her right hand is developing carpal tunnel. (AR 33.) Plaintiff has problems getting dressed, tying her shoes, opening jars, etc. (AR 34.) Plaintiff needs help eating food that requires utensils in both hands, such as cutting meat. (AR 34.)

Plaintiff had three arthroscopic surgeries in her left knee. (AR 34.) Plaintiff's doctor told her that the last option is a knee replacement, but recommended that she wait longer until she considers it because "sometimes they don't work real good." (AR 35.) Plaintiff's upper leg sometimes hurts bad, causing her to fall. (AR 35.) Plaintiff wears a knee brace when her knee is hurting or when she is exercising. (AR 35.)

Plaintiff also wears a brace on her left hand. (AR 35.) Plaintiff has not been able to use her left hand since she hurt herself in November 2004. (AR 35.) Plaintiff takes pain medication, but it makes her itch or makes her groggy. (AR 36.) Plaintiff's injury has remained about the same in the past seven years. (AR 36-37.)

Plaintiff worked at a bottling company in 1999 and 2000. (AR 38.) Plaintiff supervised 12-14 people and oversaw production. (AR 38.) Plaintiff had to learn everyone's job, ran a case packer, labeler, filler machine, palletizer, operated a forklift, inspected bottles, etc. (AR 38.)

Plaintiff saw a psychologist for depression 10-12 times in the same year as the hearing. (AR 38-39.) Plaintiff took Trazodone and Elavil for depression, but ...


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