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.

Valenzuela v. Saul

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 29, 2019

ROSIE VALENZUELA, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, [1] Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT

          Barbara A. McAuliffe, United States Magistrate Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff Rosie Valenzuela (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”) denying her application for disability insurance benefits under Title II 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 carefully considered the parties' briefs as well as the entire record in this case, the Court finds the decision of the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) to be supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole and based upon proper legal standards. Accordingly, this Court affirms the agency's determination to deny benefits.

         FACTS AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

         Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits on April 7, 2014. AR 283-91.[3]Plaintiff alleged that she became disabled on September 5, 2013, due to a right shoulder injury, tendonitis, shoulder impingement, and arthritis in her neck. AR 309, 313. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and on reconsideration. AR 216-20, 225-29. Subsequently, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”). ALJ Nancy Stewart held a hearing on June 15, 2016, and issued an order denying benefits on August 22, 2016. AR 18-41, 165-94. Plaintiff sought review of the ALJ's decision, which the Appeals Council denied, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision. AR 1-6. This appeal followed.

         Hearing Testimony[4]

         The ALJ held a hearing on June 15, 2016, in Fresno, California. Plaintiff appeared with her attorney, Michael Goldberg. Impartial Vocational Expert (“VE”) Jose L Chaparro also appeared and testified. AR 127.

         Following testimony from Plaintiff, the ALJ elicited testimony from VE Jose Chaparro. Plaintiff's counsel stipulated to Mr. Chaparro's qualifications. AR 185. At the outset of his testimony, the VE classified Plaintiff's past work as pharmacy technician, light work, semi-skilled with a SVP of 3, Dictionary of Occupational Titles (“DOT”) number 074.382-010. AR 185.

         The ALJ also asked the VE hypothetical questions. For the first hypothetical, the ALJ asked the VE to assume a range of light work, lifting and carrying no more than 20 pounds occasionally, 10 pounds frequently, pushing and pulling within those weight limits, but only occasional as to the right upper extremity, standing and walking six out of eight hours, but no walking on uneven ground, sitting six out of eight hours with the ability to stand and stretch for a minute at the end of each hour, no ladders, ropes or scaffolds, occasional stairs, ramps, kneeling and crawling, no overhead reaching with the right upper extremity, shoulder level okay, reaching in all other directions limited to frequent handling, fingering and feeling with the right upper extremity, and occasional overhead reaching with the left upper extremity. The VE testified that Plaintiff's past work would be available to the hypothetical individual. AR 185-86. If the individual also was limited to lifting and carrying ten pounds occasionally and frequently, the VE testified that the individual could perform Plaintiff's past work as it was actually performed. AR 186-87. If the individual was limited to no prolonged walking greater than 30 minutes at a time, including standing, the VE testified that there would be no past work. If the individual had to rest for 15 minutes every two hours and elevate the feet to the waist, then this individual would not be able to perform Plaintiff's past work. AR 187.

         For the second hypothetical, the ALJ asked the VE to consider a person limited to lifting and carrying no more than 20 pounds occasionally, 10 pounds frequently, pushing and pulling within those weight limits but only occasional with the right upper extremity, standing and walking six out of eight hours but no walking on uneven ground, sitting six out of eight with the ability to stand and stretch for a minute at the end of each hour, no ladders, ropes or scaffolds, occasional stairs, ramps, kneeling and crawling, no overhead reaching with the right upper extremities, shoulder level okay and reaching in all other directions limited to frequent, frequent handling, fingering and feeling with the right upper extremity, occasional overhead reaching with the left upper extremity, but no restrictions at the shoulder level, no prolonged walking or standing greater than 30 minutes at a time, and the ability to elevate the feet and rest every two hours for 15 minutes at the waist level during scheduled breaks. The VE testified that there would be other jobs in the national economy that this hypothetical person could perform, such as cashier II (DOT code 211.462-010) with a reduction in numbers nationally. This person also could perform work as a sub assembler (DOT code 729.684-054). The VE further testified that this individual would be able to perform all unskilled sedentary work. AR 188-91. If the individual was limited to non-complex tasks, then the individual could not perform Plaintiff's past work. AR 191. If the person were absent three or more times a month because of chronic pain, reduced mobility, medical treatment and ability to concentrate, there would be no jobs for this person. AR 191. If a person during an eight- hour work day was only productive about six hours one day a week, this would not be acceptable and there would be no jobs. AR 191-92. If the second hypothetical was reduced to occasional handling, fingering and feeling with the right dominant hand, the VE testified that there would not be any jobs. AR 192.

         When asked whether the hypotheticals were inconsistent with the DOT, the VE testified that he was only aware of the reduction in numbers for the cashier II position based on the sit/stand option. AR 192-93. The VE also indicated that the DOT does not discuss absences. Additionally, the VE confirmed that any testimony not based on the DOT was based on the VE's 35 years of experience with vocational rehabilitation and job placement, services, job analysis and market research. AR 193.

         Following the ALJ's questions, Plaintiff's counsel asked the VE to consider an individual who would be off ask for one hour each day due to an unscheduled nap. The VE testified that there would be no work for this individual. AR 193.

         Medical ...


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.