United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S SOCIAL SECURITY APPEAL AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE RECORD
(ECF Nos. 17, 18, 19)
STANLEY A. BOONE, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff Salvador Gomez Salcedo ("Plaintiff") seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner" or "Defendant") denying his application for disability benefits pursuant to the Social Security Act. The matter is currently before the Court on the parties' briefs, which were submitted, without oral argument, to Magistrate Judge Stanley A. Boone.
Plaintiff suffers from status-post knee partial medial meniscectomy, osteoarthritis, diabetes, hypertension, and affective disorder. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Social Security appeal shall be granted in part and denied in part; and this action shall be remanded to the Commissioner for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff protectively filed an application for supplemental security income on October 23, 2009 for a period of disability beginning on June 8, 2007. (AR 232.) Plaintiff's application was initially denied on March 24, 2010, and denied upon reconsideration on November 5, 2010. (AR 111-14, 125-29.) Plaintiff requested and received a hearing before Administrative Law Judge Sherrill Carvalho ("the ALJ"). Plaintiff appeared for a hearing on October 4, 2011. (AR 46-75.) On October 27, 2011, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. (AR 24-26, 30-39.) The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on June 14, 2013. (AR 10-13.)
A. Hearing Testimony
Plaintiff testified at the hearing on October 4, 2011, with the assistance of a Spanish language interpreter and was represented by his attorney, Geoffrey Hayden. (AR 48.) Plaintiff attended school through the fifth grade in Mexico. (AR 51.) Plaintiff speaks a little English and is limited in his ability to read English. (AR 51-52.) Plaintiff can understand ten percent of what is printed on a form and can understand seventy percent of spoken English. (AR 52.)
Plaintiff last worked for seven months for a company making springs. (AR 53.) Plaintiff operated machinery and sanded springs. (AR 53.) Plaintiff has also worked on and off as a gardener. (AR 53.) Plaintiff stopped working when he was injured in June 2007 while moving a desk. (AR 53.)
Plaintiff complains of difficulty with his memory and mental illness that causes him to become violent. (AR 54-56.) Plaintiff has controlled diabetes, arthritis, joint pain, left knee pain, and pain that runs from his legs to his back. (AR 57, 60.) Plaintiff takes medication for his diabetes, pain, and mental health issues. (AR 55, 57-58, 61.) Plaintiff experiences side effects from his medication, including headaches, memory problems, constipation, dizziness, impotency, and dry mouth. (AR 60-61.)
Plaintiff testified that he is able to walk two blocks, stand for one hour, and sit for forty minutes. (AR 59.) Plaintiff is unable to climb stairs, has problems with bending, stooping, and squatting, and can lift ten pounds without difficultly. (AR 59.) Plaintiff helps around the house by folding laundry, dusting, and washing dishes. (AR 62.) Plaintiff spends his time drawing, coloring, watching television, and reading. (AR 62.)
Plaintiff's wife helps him to shower and get dressed. (AR 62.) Plaintiff takes the bus for transportation and tries to walk to help his arthritis. (AR 62.) Plaintiff uses a cane and also a wheelchair when he needs to go farther than three blocks. (AR 64.)
A vocational expert ("the VE"), Cheryl Chandler, testified at the hearing. (AR 66-75.) The VE classified Plaintiff's prior work as a grinding job, semi-skilled, medium. (AR 68.) Plaintiff's gardening work would be classified as unskilled, medium. (AR 68.) The ALJ presented a hypothetical of a person of Plaintiff's age, education, and work experience who is able to perform medium work; can frequently balance; occasionally climb ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; must avoid concentrated exposure to hazards such as dangerous machinery an heights; and is able to understand and carry out simple job instructions. (AR 70.)
The VE opined that this individual would not be able to perform Plaintiff's past work. (AR 70.) The VE opined that this individual would be able to work at a hand-packaging job, light, such as a garment bagger, with a fifty percent reduction for potential hazards that would leave 22, 000 jobs in California; production jobs, unskilled light, reduced by fifty percent which would leave 15, 000 jobs in California; and laundry job, light, with the reduction for potential hazards leaving 21, 000 jobs in California. (AR 70-71.)
The ALJ presented a second hypothetical of a person of Plaintiff's age, education, and work experience who can lift, carry, push, or pull less than ten pounds; who can sit six hours and stand and or walk two hours in an eight hour day; never stoop or crouch; frequently finger, grasp, and handle; and would miss more than four days of work per month with occasional interference with attention and concentration. (AR 71.) The VE opined that there are no jobs that this individual could perform. (AR 71.)
Plaintiff's attorney asked the VE if Plaintiff would be able to sit and stand less than two hours if that would place Plaintiff below sedentary. (AR 73.) The VE opined that it would be at least sedentary and would be hovering around the edge. (AR 73.) The VE opined that with the ...