United States District Court, C.D. California
MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER
SUZANNE H. SEGAL UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Salazar ("Plaintiff") brings this action seeking to
overturn the decision of the Commissioner of the Social
Security Administration (the "Commissioner" or
"Agency") denying his application for Supplemental
Security Income ("SSI") benefits. The parties
consented, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), to the
jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate
Judge. (Dkt. Nos. 11, 12) . For the reasons stated below, the
Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's decision.
filed an application for SSI on May 16, 2013. (AR 134-39).
Plaintiff alleged a disability onset date of November 19,
2005. (AR 118). The Agency denied Plaintiff's application
on October 3, 2013. (AR 59-67). On October 10, 2013,
Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law
Judge ("ALJ"). (AR 71) . On December 29, 2014, ALJ
David G. Marcus conducted a hearing to review Plaintiff's
claim. (AR 39-58). On January 29, 2015, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff was not disabled under the Social Security Act. (AR
28-35). Plaintiff sought review of the ALJ's decision
before the Appeals Council on March 16, 2015. (AR 22). On
June 29, 2016, the Appeals Council denied review. (AR 8-10) .
The AL J's decision then became the final decision of the
Commissioner. (AR 8). Plaintiff commenced the instant action
on September 7, 2016. (Dkt. No. 1).
was born on March 9, 1965. (AR 134) . He was 40 years old as
of the alleged disability onset date of November 19, 2005,
and 49 years old when he testified before the ALJ. (AR 39,
134) . Plaintiff previously worked as a security guard and
mover/driver. (AR 46, 34). Plaintiff alleges disability due
to lower back injury/screws in back, low blood count, stomach
surgery for holes in esophagus, and depression. (AR 59, 161).
Plaintiffs Testimony And Statements
testified that he worked as a mover and driver for
approximately five years beginning in 2001. (AR 46, 161-62).
In 1999 and 2000, Plaintiff worked as a security guard at a
homeless shelter. (AR 46-47, 162) . Plaintiff has not worked
since he filed his application for SSI benefits in May 2013.
had prior back surgeries in February 2009 and February 2010.
(AR 164). Plaintiff testified that there is a
"ball" in the lumbar area of his back at the
location of his past surgeries that "hurts" and
does "not feel right." (AR 51-52) . This pain
prevents him from laying on his bed and leaning over. (AR
52). Plaintiff testified that he "can't do
reports that his condition has worsened since his initial
application for SSI benefits. (AR 170) . Plaintiff testified
that, due to his back pain and other limitations, he can lift
only ten to fifteen pounds, stand for three to four hours out
of an eight-hour work day, and walk for about eight hours out
of an eight-hour work day. (AR 53-55).
testified that the only medical care he is receiving is for
treatment of his back. (AR 50). The last time Plaintiff saw a
doctor for his back symptoms was in March 2013. (Id.) .
Plaintiff has not seen a doctor since that time "because
they cut me off of my workman's comp . . . [, i.e., ]
being covered." (AR 51). Plaintiff testified that the
only medications he takes are over-the-counter Ibuprofen and
Worker's Compensation Physician Simon Lavi,
Lavi, D.O., was Plaintiff's original worker's
compensation physician. (AR 31). Dr. Lavi treated Plaintiff
for ongoing symptoms associated with retained symptomatic
lumbar spine hardware and status post L4 to SI bilateral
transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion. (AR 258; see
also AR 50). Dr. Lavi's physical examination on
October 18, 2013, revealed tenderness from the mid to distal
lumbar segment of Plaintiff's spine. (AR 257). Dr. Lavi
reported pain with terminal motion and a positive seated
nerve root test with dysesthesia at the L5-S1 dermatome.
(Id.). Dr. Lavi's treatment plan included
obtaining updated magnetic resonance imaging of
Plaintiff's lumbar spine and bilateral lower extremities
and ordering an electromyogram study to assess
Plaintiff's radicular symptoms. (AR 258).
Consultative Examining Physician Conception A. Enriquez,
September 11, 2013, Plaintiff was examined by Conception A.
Enriquez, M.D., a consultative examining internist. (AR
244-47) . Dr. Enriquez noted that Plaintiff presented for
treatment for a history of peptic ulcer disease and back
pain. (AR 244) . Dr. Enriquez reported that Plaintiff drove
himself to his appointment. (AR 245).
Enriquez's physical examination of Plaintiff's spine
revealed that his cervical spine range of motion was within
normal limits with no tenderness or muscle spasm. (AR 246).
While there was tenderness in Plaintiff's lumbosacral
spine with decreased range of motion at 70/90 degrees on
trunk flexion, there was no tenderness to palpation or muscle
spasm in that area. (Id.). Plaintiff's straight
leg raising test was positive at 70 degrees. (Id.) .
Enriquez reported that Plaintiff's gait and balance are
within normal limits and Plaintiff does not require an
assistive device for ambulation. (AR 247). Using the Jamar
dynamometer, Dr. Enriquez noted that Plaintiff is able to
generate 80 pounds of force using his right hand and 90
pounds of force using his left hand. (AR 245) . The remaining
portions of Dr. Enriquez's examination of Plaintiff were
unremarkable. (AR 244-47) .
Enriquez's medical impressions were that Plaintiff's
back revealed tenderness and decreased range of motion in the
lumbosacral spine area with signs of radiculopathy. (AR 247).
As a functional assessment, the doctor opined that Plaintiff
can occasionally lift or carry twenty pounds and frequently
lift and/or carry ten pounds, stand and/or work with normal
breaks for six hours in an eight-hour work day, sit with
normal breaks for six hours in an eight-hour work day, and
occasionally bend, stoop, and twist. (Id.).
Consultative Examining Physician Richard Pollis,
August 7, 2014, Plaintiff underwent a consultative orthopedic
examination by Richard Pollis, M.D. (AR 666-71). Dr. Pollis
reported that Plaintiff's gait was "normal without
signs of limp or antalgia." (AR 668) . Dr. Pollis
further noted that Plaintiff is able to stand on his heels
and toes without difficulty and no evidence of weakness in
the ankle flexors and extensors. (Id.). Further,
Plaintiff has no difficulty getting on and off of the
examination table, sat in a chair comfortably without tilt,
is able to rise from a sitting and supine position, and
requires no assistive devices to ambulate. (Id.).
Pollis's examination of Plaintiff's spine revealed
paravertebral muscle tenderness and spasm, forward flexion to
70 degrees, extension to zero degrees, right and left lateral
flexion to fifteen degrees, and straight leg raise test to 80
degrees bilaterally with hamstring spasm. (Id.). The
Jamar dynamometer measured Plaintiff's grip strength at
80/70/80 in both hands. (AR ...