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Madera v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 22, 2016

ISMAEL HUIZAR MADERA, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S SOCIAL SECURITY APPEAL AND REMANDING FOR FURTHER DEVELOPMENT OF THE RECORD (ECF Nos. 20, 23, 24)

         I.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Ismael Huizar Madera (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner” or “Defendant”) denying his application for disability benefits and supplemental security income 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 mechanical back pain, congenital fusion at T11-12, and symptom magnification. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Social Security appeal shall be granted and remanded for further development of the record.

         II.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         After receiving an unfavorable decision on his prior claim for disability benefits on September 30, 2008 (AR 94-100), Plaintiff protectively filed a Title XVI application for supplemental security income on July 27, 2009, and a Title II application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits on August 12, 2009 (AR 358-362). (AR 354-57, 362-70.) Plaintiff's applications were initially denied on January 25, 2010, and denied upon reconsideration on August 10, 2010. (AR 179-83, 191-96.) Plaintiff requested and received a hearing before Administrative Law Judge Sharon L. Madsen (“the ALJ”). Plaintiff appeared for a hearing on August 30, 2011. (AR 55-76.) On September 16, 2011, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. (AR 154-66.) The Appeals Council granted Plaintiff's request for review, vacated the hearing decision, and remanded the case to the ALJ. (AR 173-75.) After a hearing before the ALJ on August 15, 2013, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled. (AR 21-30, 37-54.) The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on February 13, 2015. (AR 1-5.)

         A. Hearing Testimony

         Plaintiff testified at the August 15, 2013 hearing with the assistance of a Spanish interpreter and was represented by counsel. (AR 37-54.) Plaintiff testified that he has a driver's license and drives once in a while. (AR 41.) Plaintiff attended school up to third grade in Mexico; and he speaks very little English, but he is a citizen. (AR 41, 47.)

         Plaintiff sometimes needs help with his shoes and pants and showering because he is very slow and has a lot of pain when he does it himself. (AR 41-42.) Plaintiff does not do any household chores. (AR 42.) Plaintiff warms things up in the microwave. (AR 42.) He goes shopping once in a while and goes to church. (AR 42.) He does not do any yard work or gardening. (AR 42.) Plaintiff's children take him out to eat. (AR 42.) Plaintiff does not have any hobbies. (AR 42.) In a typical day, Plaintiff walks for about 30 to 40 minutes, sleeps for about an hour, and then gets up. (AR 42.) Plaintiff watches TV sometimes. (AR 43.)

         Plaintiff previously worked for Zacky and Foster Farms cutting meat and picking up heavy boxes up to 100 pounds. (AR 43.) He rotated jobs there every couple of hours. (AR 43.) Prior to working at Zacky and Foster Farms in the United States, he worked in Mexico in the fields from the time he was fourteen or sixteen until 1985 when he started working in the United States. (AR 47.)

         Plaintiff testified that he has back pain all the time and that it is worse. (AR 43-44.) When he bends down a little or pushes something, the nerve gets really painful. (AR 43-44.) When he has pain in his back, he lies down and sometimes uses ice or heat. (AR 44.) Plaintiff takes hydrocodone which helps. (AR 44.) Plaintiffs legs get numb daily for varying lengths of time. (AR 45.) Plaintiff also has strong cramps in his upper legs that occur for 15 to 20 minutes. (AR 46.) Plaintiff can lift and carry about ten pounds. (AR 46.) He can sit for an hour, stand for 40 minutes, and walk a block back and forth at a time. (AR 46.) He is unable to pick up things; and he climbs stairs very slowly with a lot of pain. (AR 46.) Plaintiff uses a cane inside and outside because it helps him keep himself up and balance. (AR 48-49.)

         A vocational expert (“VE”), Stephen Schmidt, also testified. (AR 49-53.)

         B. ALJ Findings

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

• Plaintiff meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2011.
• Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 26, 2008, the alleged onset date.
• Plaintiff has the following severe impairments: mechanical back pain, congenital fusion at T11-12, and symptom magnification.
• Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
• Plaintiff has the residual functional capacity (RFC) to lift and/or carry 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently; he can sit 6 to 8 hours in an 8-hour workday and stand and/or walk 6 to 8 hours in an 8-hour workday. This capacity most closely approximates medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967(c).
• Plaintiff is capable of performing past relevant work as a Poultry Eviscerator and Poultry Hanger. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by Plaintiffs residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
• Plaintiff has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from September 26, 2008, through the date of this decision (20 ...

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