Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Lee v. Berryhill

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 23, 2017

KONG PENG LEE, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, [1] Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER REVERSING AGENCY'S DENIAL OF BENEFITS AND ORDERING REMAND INTRODUCTION

          BARBARA A. MCAULIFFE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Kong Peng Lee (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying his application for supplemental security income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act. The matter is currently before the Court on the parties' briefs, which were submitted, without oral argument, to Magistrate Judge Barbara A. McAuliffe.[2]

         Having considered the parties' briefs, along with the entire record in this case, the Court finds that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) is not supported by substantial evidence in the record and is not based upon proper legal standards. Accordingly, the Court recommends the Commissioner's determination be REVERSED AND REMANDED for further proceedings.

         FACTS AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

         Plaintiff filed his application for supplemental security income on January 23, 2012. AR 226-34.[3] Plaintiff alleged that he became disabled on July 1, 2011. AR 226. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and on reconsideration. AR 121-25, 127-31. Subsequently, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). ALJ Sharon Madsen held a hearing on May 6, 2014, and issued an order denying benefits on May 30, 2014. AR 6-18, 29-48. Plaintiff sought review of the ALJ's decision, which the Appeals Council denied, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. AR 1-3, 5. This appeal followed.

         Hearing Testimony

         The ALJ held a hearing on May 6, 2014, in Fresno, California. AR 29-48. Plaintiff appeared and was represented by attorney Jonathan Pena. Impartial Vocational Expert (“VE”) Judith Najarian also appeared. AR 31.

         Plaintiff testified with the assistance of a Hmong interpreter. AR 9, 31. In response to questions from the ALJ, Plaintiff testified that he is married and has five children. He has a driver's license and still drives. He completed the second grade in Laos, and attended some adult school in the United States. He can understand a little bit of English, but cannot converse in it. AR 33-34.

         When asked about his daily activities, Plaintiff testified that his wife sometimes will have to help him bathe. It is difficult for him to do regular household chores, but he is able to pick up light things. He can cook or microwave a little bit. His wife does the grocery shopping, and he does not do very much yard work. He hardly goes out because he is depressed. On a typical day, he will sometimes go outside for 10 or 20 minutes, and watches TV from time to time. AR 35-36.

         When asked about his medical issues, Plaintiff testified that his gout gives him pain on his extremities, his ankles, knees, elbows, fingers and wrist. The pain is constant, but he will have severe flare-ups three to five times a month. He takes medication, which seems to stop the flare-ups from occurring every day. He also has constant pain in his upper back and shoulders, along with regular headaches every time he gets depressed. His stomach also is constantly in pain, and he has an ulcer. AR 36-38.

         When asked about his abilities, Plaintiff testified that he could lift and carry between 10 and 20 pounds, could sit up to 20 minutes and could stand up to 20 minutes. He mainly walks in and out of the house. He can bend over and put on his shoes and can climb a few steps. Plaintiff reported that he uses a cane all the time. A doctor prescribed him crutches, but Plaintiff bought a cane. AR 38-39.

         When asked about his depression, Plaintiff testified that he feels like he does not want to live and might have to shed some tears. All of his friends, relatives and siblings are dead and he is alone. His hope was for his children, but they are not behaving and he has no hope for them or for himself. He has no joy. However, Plaintiff confirmed that he told his doctor that he was still around because of his children, but now that they are not behaving well, it makes him sad. His medications do not help. AR 39-40.

         In response to questions from his attorney, Plaintiff testified that his flare-ups from gout usually last four to five days. During that time, he cannot do anything and just lies down on the sofa. With his depression, Plaintiff testified that he has crying spells two to three times a month. He also has a hard time falling asleep, and on average sleeps two to three hours each night. With regard to his cane, Plaintiff testified that he uses it for support, and even leans on it while sitting. AR 41-44.

         Following Plaintiff's testimony, the ALJ elicited testimony from the vocational expert (“VE”) Judith Najarian. In the first hypothetical, the ALJ asked the VE to consider a hypothetical individual with the same age, education and work background as Plaintiff who could lift and carry 50 pounds occasionally, 25 pounds frequently, could sit, stand or walk six to eight hours with frequent stooping, crouching, crawling, climbing, and kneeling, would need to avoid concentrated exposure to heights and was limited to simple, routine tasks. The VE testified that there would be some medium, unskilled jobs available, such as greens tier, poultry hanger, and box bender. AR 44-45.

         For the second hypothetical, the ALJ asked the VE to consider an individual who could lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally, 10 frequently, could sit, stand or walk six to eight hours, could do frequent posturals, was limited to simple, routine tasks and would miss about four days a month. The VE testified that there would be no work available for this individual. AR 45.

         For the third hypothetical, Plaintiff's counsel asked the VE to consider an individual limited to sitting about 30 minutes at a time, standing 20 minutes at time, who could sit for about two hours, could stand and walk for about two hours, and could lift no more than ten pounds. The VE testified that this individual could not perform any work. AR 46.

         Medical Record

         The entire medical record was reviewed by the Court. AR 318. The relevant medical evidence is referenced below as ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.