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Ybarra v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 22, 2016




         Plaintiff Desiderio Garcia Ybarra (“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.[1]

         Plaintiff suffers from diabetes mellitus; hypertension; bronchial asthma; history of hepatitis C; history of seizures; lower back pain; major depressive disorder, single episode with psychotic features; and polysubstance abuse. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Social Security appeal shall be denied.


         Plaintiff protectively filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits and a Title XVI application for supplemental security income on May 9, 2013. (AR 72, 90.) Plaintiff's applications were initially denied on August 9, 2013, and denied upon reconsideration on May 2, 2014. (AR 124-128, 131-135.) Plaintiff requested and received a hearing before Administrative Law Judge Cynthia Floyd (“the ALJ”). Plaintiff appeared for a hearing on October 21, 2014. (AR 26-71.) On November 14, 2014, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. (AR 7-20.) The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on February 18, 2015. (AR 1-3.)

         A. Relevant Hearing Testimony

         Plaintiff testified at the October 21, 2014 hearing. (AR 31-61.) Plaintiff was born on November 9, 1961. (AR 31.) Plaintiff was 52 years old on the date of the hearing. (AR 32.) Plaintiff was 5 feet 11 inches tall and weighed 243 pounds on the date of the hearing. (AR 32.) Plaintiff's normal weight is 253 pounds. (AR 32.) Plaintiff is right handed. (AR 33.)

         Plaintiff lives in an apartment with his wife. (AR 32.) Plaintiff is receiving food stamps and his wife works in a warehouse doing shipping and receiving. (AR 33.) Plaintiff does not have a driver's license due to child support issues and a DUI he received in the 90s. (AR 33.) Plaintiff gets around by bicycle or he takes the bus. (AR 34.) Plaintiff rides his bicycle every day and gives rides to his grandchildren. (AR 34.) Plaintiff gets along fine with his grandchildren as long as he takes his medication. (AR 34.) If he does not take his medication he gets frustrated and angry. (AR 34.)

         Plaintiff completed the tenth grade. (AR 35.) He has not had any vocational training or certifications. (AR 35.) Plaintiff last did part time seasonal work from 2008 through 2010. (AR 36.) Plaintiff worked scraping raisins off a tray onto a conveyor belt. (AR 36.) In this job, Plaintiff would lift, carry, push, pull or otherwise handle fifty pounds. (AR 37.) Plaintiff would also sweep, and remove leaves, branches, and rotten grapes before they ran through the dehydrator. (AR 37.) Plaintiff also did the same tasks with prunes. (AR 37-38.)

         In 2007 and 2008, Plaintiff did production work boxing items for different companies through a placement agency. (AR 38.) In this position he would handle thirty to thirty-five pounds. (AR 39.) He worked for a different temp agency in 2007 doing similar work. (AR 39.) In 2006, Plaintiff worked for a company pulling plastic from a conveyor belt to recycle it from the other trash. (AR 40.) Plaintiff would handle twenty-five to forty pounds in this position. (AR 40.) The last year that he worked Plaintiff received unemployment. (AR 41.) During that period of time, Plaintiff was looking for work. (AR 41.) Plaintiff put in applications but never got called for a job. (AR 41.) He has not applied for any jobs since 2012. (AR 42.)

         Plaintiff was in prison from 1996 to 1997. (AR 43.) He went back three times for violations. (AR 43.) The last time he was in prison was around 2002. (AR 44.) The violations were drug related. (AR 44.)

         Plaintiff is unable to work because he hears voices. (AR 42.) Plaintiff used drugs to see if they would make the voices stop but they did not and he ended up in the hospital. (AR 42.) The voices tell Plaintiff that he is worthless, that people are laughing at him, and when he worked he would yell out which got him in trouble. (AR 42-43.) He was embarrassed to tell his supervisor that he was yelling because of the voices. (AR 43.) The voices have gotten worse. (AR 43.)

         Plaintiff takes medication as it is prescribed. (AR 45.) The medication Plaintiff takes helps, but he still hears the voices. (AR 43.) The medication helps calm Plaintiff down and helps his depression. (AR 43.) When Plaintiff takes his medication he does not get angry, impatient or frustrated and he can converse normally. (AR 46.) If he does not take his medication then he is angry and becomes violent. (AR 46.) Plaintiff takes his medication in the morning and at night. (AR 46.) About an hour and half after he takes his medication he gets drowsy and he has to go lie down and sleep for two, three, or four hours during the day. (AR 45, 46.) Plaintiff's sister manages his medication because his wife and sister are afraid he might try to overdose on the medication. (AR 45.) Plaintiff still hears the voices constantly every day when he is taking his medication but it does help. (AR 47.) If Plaintiff tries to block the voices out they become more “rowdy.” (AR 48.) Plaintiff will argue with the voices, not all the time, but every day. (AR 48.) The voices sound like young kids telling him stuff. (AR 49.)

         Plaintiff does not take any medication for his hepatitis C. (AR 60-61.) The doctor told him that since he is not using drugs the hepatitis will sometimes go away by itself. (AR 61.) Plaintiff had seizures fifteen to twenty years ago. (AR 61.) Plaintiff had an asthma attack a couple days prior to the hearing and took an inhaler. (AR 61.)

         Plaintiff cleans, mops, sweeps, cleans the tabletops, and washes dishes. (AR 49.) Plaintiff can mop for ten to fifteen minutes and then stops because the voices tell him he looks like a wuss and call him names because he is doing a girl's job. (AR 45-50.) Plaintiff will take a break for ten to twenty minutes where he will sit down and watch television to distract him from the voices. (AR 50.) After that he will get up and do another activity. (AR 50.) Plaintiff goes to the grocery store to get things for himself but no longer goes with his wife to do grocery shopping because he does not like to be around people. (AR 51.) Plaintiff feels like the people are looking at him and talking about him so he goes out and sits in the car. (AR 51.)

         Plaintiff has friends but does not associate with them very much. (AR 51.) Plaintiff stays away from his friends because he gets angry real fast. (AR 52.) Plaintiff feels sad almost every day. (AR 52.) When he gets sad, Plaintiff goes to his room and sits there because he does not want to associate with anyone, even his family. (AR 52.) Plaintiff does this once or twice a day and stays in his room for a couple hours. (AR 52-53.) Plaintiff feels better when he goes to his room. (AR 53.) Plaintiff cries when he feels sad. (AR 53.) Plaintiff can watch television for twenty minutes before he has to stop because he hears the voices again. (AR 53.) Plaintiff cannot watch an entire television program. (AR 53.)

         Plaintiff does not take a shower every day because sometimes when he is in the shower he hears voices telling him he should drown himself. (AR 54.) Plaintiff has suicidal thoughts every day. (AR 54.) Plaintiff has told his doctor's this and they tell him to sit down and meditate or something to relax. (AR 54-55.) Plaintiff goes outside and walks around the block once in a while. (AR 55.) Mainly he goes out around the carport in the alley. (AR 55.) Plaintiff feels better when he rides his bike because he got exercise. (AR 55.) Plaintiff thought that he ate less when he was depressed but his sister said he eats more. (AR 55-56.) Plaintiff has gained weight since he went on the medication. (AR 57.) Plaintiff weighed 220 and has gained weight over the last few years. (AR 56.) Plaintiff used to drink a lot so he weighed 250. (AR 56.) He lost weight when he started doing drugs. (AR 57.) Since he went off illegal drugs he has gained weight. (AR 57.)

         Plaintiff last did illegal drugs in December of 2013. (AR 57.) He was in an outpatient drug program called New Connections at the recommendation of his probation officer. (AR 57.) Plaintiff goes to the program three times per week. (AR 57.) It is a group program and they talk about their problems. (AR 57-58.) There are anywhere from eight to ten people in the group. (AR 58.) Plaintiff goes to the program to stay clean but he does not like being around people and talking to them. (AR 58.) Plaintiff only talks to the lady. (AR 58.) Plaintiff finds the program to be helpful. (AR 58.) Plaintiff has a random drug test once a month in the program. (AR 59.) He has not had any dirty tests. (AR 59.)

         Plaintiff also goes to two or three AA or NA meetings outside the program on the weekends. (AR 59.) Plaintiff sits away from people at the meetings. (AR 60.) They call on him to talk, but he tells them he has nothing to say. (AR 60.)

         A vocational expert, Jose L. Chaparro, also testified at the hearing. (AR 62-69.)

         B. ALJ Findings

         The ALJ made the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

• Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2014.
• Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of March 1, 2012.
• Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: major depressive disorder, single episode with psychotic features, and polysubstance abuse.
• Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meet or medically equal the severity of one of the listed impairments.
• Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels with the following nonexertional limitations: Plaintiff is limited to simple, routine tasks with occasional public contact; and occasional superficial contact with coworkers and supervisors.
• Plaintiff is capable of performing past relevant work as a hand packager. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by Plaintiffs residual functional capacity.
• Plaintiff has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from March 1, 2012, through ...

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