United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DIRECTING ENTRY OF JUDGMENT IN FAVOR OF
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY AND AGAINST
S. AUSTIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Maria Diana Narvaiz (“Plaintiff”) seeks judicial
review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security (“Commissioner” or
“Defendant”) denying her application for
supplemental security income pursuant to 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 the Honorable Gary S. Austin, United States
Magistrate Judge. See Docs. 15, 20 and 21. Having
reviewed the record as a whole, the Court finds that the
ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence and
applicable law. Accordingly, Plaintiff's appeal is
December 30, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for
supplemental security income alleging disability beginning
February 3, 2013. AR 32. The Commissioner denied the
application initially on April 9, 2014, and following
reconsideration on October 9, 2014. AR 32.
November 6, 2014, Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing. AR
32. Administrative Law Judge Sharon L. Madsen presided over
an administrative hearing on August 11, 2016. AR 46-71.
Plaintiff appeared and was represented by an attorney. AR 46.
On November 9, 2016, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's
application. AR 32-41.
Appeals Council denied review on February 1, 2018. AR 7-9. On
November 19, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint in this Court.
(born June 1, 1967) lived with her son and his family. AR 50.
She was able to perform her own personal care, shop, help out
with cleaning, cook and do dishes. AR 52. She assisted in the
care of her 19-month-old twin grandchildren. AR 52. Plaintiff
did not drive and relied on family members for rides. AR 51.
had a GED and completed some college courses. AR 51. Her
prior work included basic care of disabled patients,
including bathing, feeding and laundry; basic housekeeping
and breakfast service at a local inn; and, part-time work in
a minimart. AR 53-54.
described constant cramping and aching in her neck with pain
radiating to her left arm. AR 55. Her symptoms were worsening
with age. AR 64. Her left arm was completely numb. AR 55.
Sitting was uncomfortable. AR 56. She was most comfortable
reclining with support under her neck and her feet elevated.
AR 56. Plaintiff had developed arthritis in her shoulder,
which she described as feeling like burns and shocks. AR 57.
Walking caused back pain. AR 58. Although her doctor had
recommended stretching, Plaintiff did not think she could do
that. AR 58. She depended on Baclofen (a muscle relaxer),
Norco (pain reliever) and Meloxicam (for arthritis) as well
as nonprescription aspercreme. AR 58-59. Her blood pressure
was stable with medication. AR 59.
could sit for twenty to thirty minutes. AR 60. She could walk
to a store that was about a half block away. AR 60. She could
carry a gallon of milk with her right arm but not with her
left. AR 59. Raising her left arm over her head was painful.
AR 61. Plaintiff had difficulty bending over. AR 60.
the 2015 murder of her youngest son, Plaintiff experienced
depression and anxiety. AR 62. However, she had recently
found it easier to sleep and did not need medication as much.
March 2014, Plaintiff completed a pain questionnaire. AR
221-24. Plaintiff reported that she had experienced pain in
her neck, shoulders, upper back and upper extremities since
April 1986. AR 221. Rest usually relieved the pain in 30 to
45 minutes. AR 221. Plaintiff used two prescription drugs,
Meloxicam and Tramadol, which relieved her pain in 40 to 60
minutes. AR 221. Side effects included drowsiness, dry mouth,
diarrhea and sweating. AR 223. Warm packs were also helpful.
was able to run errands without assistance. AR 224. She could
walk four to five blocks, stand one and half to two hours,
and sit for one hour at a time. AR 224.
July 2013 to July 2016, Plaintiff received regular medical
care from Debra Martin, FNP, at Family Healthcare
Network. AR 245-67, 269-71, 282-293, 307-12,
335-43, 349-83, 387-92, 396-403, 408-13, 417-37, 443-72. As
of July 2016, Plaintiff's diagnoses included cervicalgia;
dorsalgia; insomnia; essential (primary) hypertension; major
depressive disorder, single episode, severe without psychotic
features; other intervertebral disc degeneration, lumbosacral
region; anxiety disorder, unspecified; cervical disc disorder
with myelopathy, unspecified cervical region; pain in
unspecified shoulder; and, pain in left knee. AR 350.
Medications included Meloxicam (dorsalgia), Ambien
(insomnia), Losartan Potassium (hypertension), Paroxetine HCl
(depression), Norco (cervical disc disorder) and Baclofen
(muscle spasm). AR 350-51.
studies were conducted on April 21, 2014, to address
Plaintiff's backaches. AR 269-71. Lumbar spine x-rays
revealed no fracture or malalignment and mild spondylosis at
¶ 3-4 and L4-5 with mild endplate osteophytosis, but no
significant intervertebral disc height loss. AR 269. X-rays
of Plaintiff's right shoulder revealed mild
acromioclavicular degenerative changes but a normal
glenohumeral joint and no fracture or dislocation. AR 270.
Thoracic spine x-rays were normal except for mild multilevel
bony upper trophic spurring at the intervertebral disc
margins, consistent with mild chronic osteoarthritis. AR 271.
Brubaker, D.O., of Muscular Skeletal Medical Associates,
issued a “Physician Statement and Recommendation”
for medical marijuana on May 27, 2014. AR 276.
was evaluated for physical therapy at Sierra View District
Hospital in May 2015. AR 323-27. Adriene Aono, PT, DPT,
described Plaintiff as a “tough case: s/p fusion with
lots of referred pain still and adaptive shortening of soft
tissue around upper quadrants on both sides. Reflexes
diminished but not absent on the left. Prognosis is fair.
Reasonable candidate for desensitization and strengthening if
she can tolerate it.” AR 327. Plaintiff did not
participate in physical therapy after the evaluation. AR 439.
resonance imaging of Plaintiff's cervical spine in August
2015 revealed (1) surgical changes of C4-6 bony fusion with
diskectomies; (2) a focal lesion at ¶ 5-6 consistent
with myelomalacia, likely related to Plaintiff's upper
extremity radiculopathy and possibly chronic; and, (3)
mild/moderate degenerative disk changes, central ...