United States District Court, C.D. California, Eastern Division
HELEN G. VILLEGAS, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
STEPHEN J. HILLMAN, Magistrate Judge.
This matter is before the Court for review of the Decision by the Commissioner of Social Security denying plaintiff's application for Supplemental Security Income. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), the parties have consented that the case may be handled by the undersigned. The action arises under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), which authorizes the Court to enter judgment upon the pleadings and transcript of the record before the Commissioner. The plaintiff and the defendant have filed their pleadings (Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Complaint ["Plaintiff's Brief"]; [Defendant's Opposition], and the defendant has filed the certified transcript of record. After reviewing the matter, the Court concludes that the Decision of the Commissioner should be affirmed.
On October 7, 2010, plaintiff Helen G. Villegas filed an application for Supplemental Security Income, alleging an inability to work since July 9, 2008. (See 1 Administrative Record ["AR"] 128-36). On November 16, 2012 (following a hearing on August 1, 2012, see 1 AR 109-27), an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") determined that plaintiff had the following severe impairments - major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder- but found that plaintiff was not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. (See 1 AR 29-39).
Following the Appeals Council's denial of plaintiff's request for a review of the hearing decision (see 1 AR 1-4), plaintiff filed this action in this Court.
Plaintiff solely alleges that the ALJ failed to provide clear and convincing reasons for finding plaintiff not credible. After reviewing the matter, the Court concludes that the decision of the Commissioner should be affirmed.
ISSUE NO. 1:
Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ failed to provide clear and convincing reasons for finding her not fully credible. Defendant asserts that the ALJ properly assessed plaintiff's credibility.
At the administrative hearing, plaintiff testified that she is single (she has had an off and on relationship with her husband, but she could not remember when their relationship ended). She is homeless, and stays with different people, including her sister twice a week (for the past 9 or 10 years) and another family member twice a week. She has limited belongings; she carries what she needs in a little briefcase. She has not been incarcerated the past five years; she was incarcerated in 2004. She last worked in 1996; she has been receiving general relief for 9 to 10 years. She one time worked for a temporary agency for two days, but since it was not data entry work she was not comfortable with it.
She testified she typically gets up at 8 or 9 a.m. She is able to prepare simple meals, dress herself, and take a shower or bath. She drives herself to the market (once a month) and to doctor's appointments only. The driving takes 4 hours a week. Shopping at the market takes approximately 2 hours. When she stays with others, she helps clear the table; she does not wash the dishes, mop or dust or sweep or vacuum, or take out the trash.
With respect to social activities, she does not have any hobbies and does not read. She last had a hobby about 8 or 9 years earlier. She watches television 2 to 3 hours a day, listens to music, and occasionally watches movies. She chats with her sister when her sister is around. Although she has a cellular phone, she does not use it for games or for the internet. She does not garden, do yard work, or socialize with others (she stays by herself. She goes to church one Sunday a month (45 minutes). She does not attend any formal group meetings. She stays home almost every day, feeling isolated (like she is drowning slowly) and crying.
She testified she has lost about 45 pounds the past two years. When asked about what problems she has that prevent her from working on a full-time basis, she said she cannot handle stress, is a nervous person, has anxiety, and gets chronic pain throughout her body (particularly on her left side, from her legs to her shoulders). Her chronic pain began as a result of a left pelvis fracture suffered in a 2000 vehicle incident involving her fiance. When asked if she is on medication, she stated, "I was just told to take ibuprofen but I've been... told to go back to see my family practitioner so she can refer me... back to therapy again." (She had made an appointment to see her family practitioner).
She testified that she has has been seeing Dr. Boda, a psychiatrist, at Kaiser Corona for a while. She has gone to one therapy session (which she found helpful), and has scheduled a second session. She was taking Prozac, Buspar, and Dexilant sleeping pills for anxiety and depression. She has taken the medications for longer than a couple years, but there have been gaps in her taking them. When asked if her medications helped her with her anxiety, she stated she had not taking ...