United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
SUZANNE H. SEGAL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Tina Meshell Hayes ("Plaintiff") seeks review of
the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (the "Commissioner" or the
"Agency") denying her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income. The
parties consented, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), to
the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge. For the reasons stated below, the decision of the
Commissioner is AFFIRMED.
11, 2012, Plaintiff filed applications for Title II
Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Title XVI
Supplemental Security Income ("SSI").
(Administrative Record ("AR") 10). In both
applications, Plaintiff alleged a disability onset date of
October 24, 2010. (Id.). The Agency denied
Plaintiff's applications on November 8, 2012. (AR 67, 71)
. On January 3, 2013, Plaintiff filed a written request for a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ")
. (AR 76) . On July 25, 2013, Plaintiff appeared and
testified at the hearing held before ALJ David J. Agatstein.
(AR 23) . Vocational expert Ms. Kristan V. Sagliocco and
medical experts Glenn E. Griffin, PH.D., and Ronald Kendrick,
M.D., also testified at the hearing. (AR 10) . On September
9, 2013, the ALJ issued a decision denying benefits. (AR 9) .
requested review of the ALJ's decision, which the Appeals
Officer denied on April 10, 2015. (AR 1-4) . Plaintiff filed
this action on June 10, 2015. (Dkt. No. 1).
was born on August 20, 1964 and was forty-eight (48) years
old at the time of the 2013 hearing. (AR 31) . Plaintiff was
forty-six (46) years old at the time of her alleged
disability onset date. (AR 43). Plaintiff testified that she
dropped out of high school in tenth grade and later obtained
a G.E.D. (AR 31, 148). Plaintiff speaks and understands
English. (AR 25). Plaintiff previously worked as a customer
service representative at a grocery store and as a security
guard. (AR 148). Plaintiff alleges that she suffers from pain
in her neck, back, left leg, and right wrist. (AR 33, 43, 56)
. Plaintiff also alleges that she suffers from depression,
but that her depression does not interfere with her ability
to work. (AR 33).
October 25, 2010 to July 11, 2013, Plaintiff underwent a
series of physical and psychiatric evaluations. (AR 268, 327)
. Plaintiff was diagnosed with pain stemming from her neck,
back, and right wrist. (AR 178-246, 296-300, 326-334).
Physical Evaluations And Treatments
between October 25, 2010 to February 29, 2012, Plaintiff
visited Advanced Care Specialists for the evaluation and
treatment of her back in connection with a worker's
compensation claim. (AR 15, 251, 268). On March 24, 2011,
physician Dr. Randy S. Higashi, D.C., examined
Plaintiff. (AR 178). On April 16, 2011, Dr. Amjad
Safvi, M.D., conducted an MRI of Plaintiff's lumbar spine
and found mild degenerative disc disease. (AR 205-06) .
April 26, 2011, physician Dr. Ronald M. Schilling, M.D.,
diagnosed Plaintiff with myofascial "low back pain[,
which] radiat[ed] to both legs with numbness and tingling to
both feet." (AR 245-46). On November 8, 2011, Dr.
Higashi prescribed medications for Plaintiff, including
"Vicodin, Naproxen, Gabapentin and Prilosec[.]" (AR
191). On January 10, 2012, Dr. Edward Opoku, D.O., confirmed
Dr. Higashi's diagnosis of radiculopathy and continued
Plaintiff's treatment. (AR 191-92) . On February 29,
2012, Dr. Higashi treated Plaintiff with
LSO-Flexible to support her back. (AR 251).
October 13, 2012 to July 11, 2013, Plaintiff visited Medpro
Services, Inc., UC Family Medicine Center, and Beverly Tower
Wilshire for the evaluation and treatment of her wrist and
neck. (AR 296, 310-34). Specifically, on October 13, 2012,
Plaintiff went to Medpro Services, Inc., where Dr. Curtis
Kephart, M.D., diagnosed Plaintiff with "mild wrist
arthritis secondary to a non-displaced fracture [, and]
cervical spondylosis with myofascial neck pain[.]" (AR
296-300). Dr. Kephart concluded that Plaintiff "could
lift and carry 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds
frequently [, ] . . . push and pull frequently [, ] . . .
sit, walk and stand for six hours out of an eight-hour day [
] " without an assistive device. (AR 300) . Dr. Kephart
also concluded that "[t]here were no manipulative or
postural limitations" and that "the right hand
can do fine and gross manipulations frequently[.]"
(Id.) . Plaintiff "was treated with pain
management, acupuncture and physical therapy." (AR 190).
January 10, 2013, Plaintiff went to the U.C. Family Medical
Center where Dr. Uche Chukwudi, M.D., x-rayed Plaintiff's
right wrist and found a fracture of the distal navicular
bone. (AR 311-12). In addition, Dr. Chukwudi found
Plaintiff's cholesterol level to be out of range and
poorly controlled. (AR 316-17). From March 22, 2013 to July
11, 2013, Plaintiff sought treatment at Beverly Tower
Wilshire for her wrist and back. (AR 326-34). From March 22,
2013 to May 10, 2013, Dr. Siamak Dardashti, M.D., took an MRI
of Plaintiff's back and found "broad based disc
osteophyte, moderate left lateral recess and
foraminal narrowing." (AR 329-31). On July 11, 2013, Dr.
Tinoosh Zand, M.D., took an MRI of Plaintiff's right
wrist and found "a chronic non[-]union fracture of the
distal pole of the scaphoid without evidence for
osteonecrosis." (AR 326-27) . Dr. Zand also found
"[p]robable chronic injury to the radial collateral
ligament with abnormal signal at the radial styloid[.]"
October 10, 2012, Plaintiff visited Medpro Services, Inc.,
where Dr. Nina Kapitanski, M.D., conducted a psychiatric
evaluation and diagnosed Plaintiff with "a depressive
disorder secondary to general medical condition." (AR
269-73) . Dr. Kapitanski noted that Plaintiff "was well
kept, well nourished and in no apparent distress." (AR
271) . Plaintiff acknowledged to Dr. Kapitanski that she had
a prior use of "street drugs" but stopped such
usage in 1999. (AR 270). Dr. Kapitanski also found that
Plaintiff had "no difficulty maintaining composure and
even temperament." (Id.). Dr. Kapitanski then
noted that Plaintiff "exhibited no evidence of auditory
or visual hallucinations, delusions, or illusions "
and that Plaintiff "denied current suicidal or homicidal
ideations, plan, or intent." (AR 269). Dr. Kapitanski
reported that Plaintiff worked as a security guard for six
years. (AR 270).
addition, Dr. Kapitanski "opined that [Plaintiff] had no
past psychiatric history." (AR 272) . Dr. Kapitanski
also noted that "if [Plaintiff] received [psychiatric]
treatment, her symptoms would significantly improve[.]"
(Id.). Dr. Kapitanski continued that Plaintiff
"had no difficulties in maintaining social
functioning" and had "mild difficulties focusing
and maintaining attention . . . concentration, persistence,
and pace." (Id.). According to Dr. Kapitanski,
Plaintiff "would have no difficulties performing work
activities on a consistent basis without special or
additional supervision" and "no limitations
accepting instructions from supervisors and interacting with
coworkers and with the public." (Id.).
Furthermore, Dr. Kapitanski found that Plaintiff "was
intellectually and psychologically capable of performing
activities of daily living." (Id.). Dr.
Kapitanski concluded that Plaintiff "would have no
limitations performing simple and repetitive tasks and mild
limitations performing detailed and complex tasks."
(Id.). Dr. Kapitanski also concluded that Plaintiff
"would have mild difficulties handling the usual
stresses, changes and demands of gainful employment."
25, 2013, Plaintiff testified about her background, including
her education level, work history, and medical history. (AR
31-34) . Plaintiff stated that she "dropped out [of high
school] in 10th grade and  went back to school in 2000 and
got [her] high school diploma." (AR 31). Plaintiff
stated that she was currently unemployed and that in the
fifteen years before the date of her testimony, she was
employed as a security guard and a grocery store employee.
(AR 31-32). Plaintiff also testified that her previous
employment ended because of "a fall down[, ]" which
precipitated pain in her neck and eventually in her back and
right wrist. (AR 32-33) .
Plaintiff stated that she did not have a mental impairment
that would interfere with her ability to work. (AR 33) .
Plaintiff concluded by explaining that her right wrist became
problematic after "couple of fall downs"
notwithstanding an untreated non-union fracture that occurred
twenty years ago. (AR 33-34) .
THE FIVE-STEP SEQUENTIAL EVALUATION PROCESS
qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must demonstrate
a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that
prevents her from engaging in substantial gainful activity
and that is expected to result in death or to last for a
continuous period of at least twelve months. Reddick v.
Chater, 157 F.3d 715, 721 (9th Cir. 1998) (citing 42
U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A)). The impairment must render the
claimant incapable of performing the work she previously
performed and incapable of performing any other substantial