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Sharp v. Colvin

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 19, 2015

TERRY SHARP, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ORDER AFFIRMING AGENCY'S DENIAL OF BENEFITS AND ORDERING JUDGMENT FOR COMMISSIONER

BARBARA A. McAULIFFE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Terry Sharp ("Plaintiff") seeks judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying his applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act, respectively.[1] The matter is before the Court on the parties' briefs, which were submitted without oral argument to Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe. The Court finds the decision of the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") to be supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole and based upon proper legal standards. Accordingly, this Court affirms the agency's determination to deny benefits.

FACTS AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

On August 23, 2011 and September 8, 2011 Plaintiff filed his current applications for DIB and SSI beginning on April 22, 2009. AR 219, 225.[2] Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. AR 141, 155. Subsequently, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ. AR 162-163. ALJ Serena S. Hong held a hearing on May 14, 2013, and issued an order denying benefits on June 21, 2013. AR 19-27. The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on October 11, 2013. AR 1-3. This appeal followed.

Plaintiff's Testimony

The ALJ held a hearing on May 14, 2013, in Fresno, California. AR 32-64. Plaintiff appeared and testified. AR 19. He was represented by attorney Charles Oren. AR 19.[3]

Plaintiff was born on March 27, 1963, and was 50 years old at the time of the hearing. AR 36. He is single, without children, and lives with his parents. AR 36. Plaintiff has a 12th grade education, but has not completed his GED. AR 37. Plaintiff testified that he began having hip, back, and neck pain after a bike accident in 2009. AR 40-41. He sees his doctor once a month and is currently taking Tramadol for pain. AR 42. Plaintiff also takes Metformin for diabetes and Allopurinol for gout. AR 44. He has not worked since 2008 when the company he was working for closed. AR 40.

As a result of his impairments, Plaintiff claims that he cannot bend over to tie his shoes on his right side. AR 41. Plaintiff also struggles to pick-up items off the floor. AR 43. Sitting or standing for longer than one to two hours aggravates his pain. AR 46. He also cannot completely turn his head from side-to-side or up and down. AR 47. While Plaintiff attended physical therapy, he testified that it was ineffective. AR 43. Plaintiff also testified that he is ineligible for hip replacement surgery because he is overweight. AR 42-43.

When asked about his daily activities, Plaintiff stated that he cleans his room, sweeps the carpet, does dishes, washes laundry, and occasionally cooks. AR 48. He also goes grocery shopping with his mom, feeds his dog, and walks him around the block. AR 48-49. Plaintiff no longer drives because of a prior DUI conviction, but he no longer drinks alcohol. AR 37. Plaintiff also testified that he typically lies down for five-to-six hours during the day. AR 51.

Medical Record

The entire medical record was reviewed by the Court. AR 298-518. The medical evidence will be referenced below as necessary to this Court's decision.

The ALJ's Decision

Using the Social Security Administration's five-step sequential evaluation process, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not meet the disability standard. AR 19-27. More particularly, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not engaged in any substantial gainful activity since April 22, 2009. AR 21. Further, the ALJ identified degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease of the right hip, diabetes mellitus, status-post cervical spine fracture, and obesity as severe impairments. AR 21. Nonetheless, the ALJ determined that the severity of Plaintiff's impairments did not meet or exceed any of the listed impairments. AR 25.

Based on his review of the entire record, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff retained the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work, except he can only occasionally perform postural activities. AR 22. He also found that Plaintiff could perform a significant number of other jobs that exist in the national economy including, ticket taker, parking attendant, and school ...


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