United States District Court, D. Arizona
Honorable Bruce G. Macdonald Magistrate Judge
pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Brief for
Plaintiff (“Opening Brief”) (Doc. 19). Defendant
filed her Corrected Brief (“Response”) (Doc.
25-1), and Plaintiff filed his Plaintiff's Reply Brief
for Plaintiff (“Reply”) (Doc. 26). The Court also
granted Defendant leave to file a Surreply (Doc. 31).
Plaintiff brings this cause of action for review of the final
decision of the Commissioner for Social Security pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The United States Magistrate Judge
has received the written consent of both parties, and
presides over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c)
and Rule 73, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
January 24, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Title II application for
Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) alleging disability as of April 5, 2010
due to a left shoulder due to a work accident and knee
pain. See Administrative Record
(“AR”) at 13, 26, 49, 54-55, 59, 61, 65-66, 78,
82, 142, 172, 211, 228. Plaintiff's date last insured is
September 30, 2014. Id. at 15, 57, 69, 172, 211,
228. The Social Security Administration (“SSA”)
denied this application on August 23, 2012. Id. at
13, 54-60, 78-81. Plaintiff filed a request for
reconsideration, and on January 16, 2013, SSA denied
Plaintiff's application upon reconsideration.
Id. at 13, 65-74, 82-84. On February 27, 2013,
Plaintiff filed his request for hearing. Id. at 13.
On November 18, 2013, a hearing was held before
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Lauren R.
Mathon. AR at 13, 24-48. On January 9, 2014, the ALJ issued
an unfavorable decision. Id. at 10-19. On January
29, 2014, Plaintiff requested review of the ALJ's
decision by the Appeals Council, and on June 12, 2015, review
was denied. Id. at 1-3, 9. On August 11, 2015,
Plaintiff filed this cause of action. Compl. (Doc. 1).
was sixty-three (63) years old at the time of the
administrative hearing and sixty (60) at the time of the
alleged onset of his disability. AR at 29, 49, 54, 61, 65,
144, 172, 211, 228. Plaintiff has a sixth grade education.
Id. at 49, 57, 61, 69, 176. Prior to his alleged
disability, Plaintiff worked as a certified welder.
Id. at 34, 198-210, 219- 28.
administrative hearing, Plaintiff testified, using an
interpreter, that he is married, but lives alone. AR at 26,
29. Plaintiff further testified that he does his own laundry,
cooking, and food shopping. Id. at 30. Plaintiff
currently supports himself with his Social Security
retirement. Id. at 31. Prior to receiving his
retirement, and after the alleged onset of his disability,
Plaintiff supported himself through worker's
compensation. Id. Since April 2010, Plaintiff has
travelled to California and Mexico either on the bus or in a
friend's vehicle. Id. at 32-34.
testified that he worked as a certified welder prior to the
alleged onset of his disability, and has not worked since. AR
at 34. Plaintiff further testified that he has knee and left
shoulder pain. Id. at 34-35. Plaintiff testified
that although he is not receiving active treatment for his
knee or shoulder, but he is being treated by a pain
management doctor. Id. at 35-36. Plaintiff also
testified that he had two prior shoulder surgeries, and his
left shoulder still bothers him a lot. Id. at 36.
Plaintiff confirmed that he has difficulty lifting, gripping,
and grasping with his left arm. Id. at 36-37.
Plaintiff testified that as a result of these difficulties,
he uses his right arm to compensate. AR at 37. Plaintiff
further testified that his pain was moderately severe on an
average day. Id. Plaintiff stated that his pain
increases with increased activity. Id.
testified that because of his knee problems, he has trouble
standing for long periods. Id. at 38. Plaintiff
estimated that he could stand for three (3) hours before
needing to sit. Id. Plaintiff further testified that
he stood for six (6) hours, approximately six (6) months
prior, while waiting to cross the international border to
Mexico. AR at 38-40. Plaintiff testified that after
approximately three (3) hours standing in line he wanted to
sit-down, but it was not possible. Id. Plaintiff
further testified that his knee was very painful after
standing for so long, requiring rest and massage.
Id. at 40. Plaintiff testified that his knee hurts
to the point of requiring massage and medication every three
(3) or four (4) days. Id.
testified that he is able to lift approximately ten (10)
pounds from a tabletop without increasing her pain.
Id. at 41. Plaintiff further testified that he takes
medication for the pain, including pills and a topical cream.
AR at 41. Plaintiff also testified that he lays down two (2)
or three (3) times per week because of the pain. Id.
at 42. Plaintiff testified that his right shoulder does not
cause any problems with reaching or gripping. Id.
Plaintiff testified that the pain in his legs, “a bone
that's out on my right shoulder[, ]” and the
problems with his left shoulder are the primary reasons that
he cannot work. Id.
completed a Function Report-Adult in this matter. He
indicated that he walks for approximately one (1) hour each
day and at noon he is in the house reading or listening to
music. AR at 184. After supper, Plaintiff stated that he
watches television until ten (10) o'clock at night before
going to bed. Id. Plaintiff indicated that he could
run and exercise more safely prior to his injuries.
Id. at 185. Plaintiff further indicated that he
cannot sleep much due to his shoulder pain, and he has to
take sleeping pills. Id. Plaintiff also testified
that he has difficulty changing his clothes and bathing due
to leg and shoulder pain. Id. Plaintiff does not
require assistance to care for his personal needs and is able
to cook his own meals every day. AR at 186. Plaintiff does
chores for approximately an hour and a half each day,
including laundry and ironing and cleaning the house.
Id. Plaintiff goes out each day and is able to drive
and use public transportation. Id. at 187. Plaintiff
grocery shops for approximately an hour and a half each week.
Id. Plaintiff is able to manage his money and pays
his own bills. Id. Plaintiff's primary hobbies
include watching television, going to baseball games, and
reading. Id. at 188. Plaintiff also attends church
each week. AR at 188.
testified that he feels depressed since the injuries began
and his ability to lift, walk, climb stairs, squat and kneel
have been affected. Id. at 189. Additionally,
Plaintiff can only lift 25 pounds, has pain in his knees and
gets tired after walking. Id. Plaintiff estimated
that he needs to rest after approximately one half hour of
walking. Id. Plaintiff indicated that he uses a cane
for walking. Id. at 190.
also filled out an Exertional Daily Activities Questionnaire.
AR at 192. Plaintiff indicated that he lives in an apartment
and described his average day as getting up, making
breakfast, and watching television. Id. Then, at
noon he goes out to his patio to sit and listen to the radio.
Id. At night, after dinner, he watches television
before bed. Id. Plaintiff described his symptoms as
knee pains, a lot of cramps, headaches and exasperation and
upset. Id. Plaintiff indicated that he walks 10-15
minutes to the store. AR at 192. Plaintiff stated that he can
only lift fifteen (15) pounds and goes grocery shopping every
fifteen (15) days. Id. at 193. Plaintiff indicated
that he does household chores weekly, and goes to the park to
see baseball or soccer games every week or every other week.
Id. Plaintiff states that he cannot stay as long at
the park, because he gets tired. Id. Plaintiff also
needs a nap during the day. Id. Plaintiff indicated
that he uses the cane. AR at 194. Plaintiff's medications
include Meloxicam, Tizanidine HCL, and Medrox. Id.
Vocational Expert Valerie Williams's
Valerie Williams testified as a vocational expert at the
administrative hearing. AR at 28, 43. Ms. Williams described
Plaintiff's past work as a welder, combination,
Dictionary of Occupational Titles (“DOT”) code
819.384-010 as medium exertion, and a Specific Vocational
Preparation (“SVP”) of 6. Id. at 43. Ms.
Williams further testified that there were no transferrable
skills from welder to any other medium or light occupations.
asked Ms. Williams about a hypothetical individual with the
same age, education, and vocational background as Plaintiff.
Id. The ALJ asked Ms. Williams whether, assuming
that such a person could “do medium level exertional
work with the following additional limitations[:] postural
limitations [of] . . . occasionally climb[ing] ladders;
ropes; and scaffolds; . . . frequently climb[ing] ramps;
stairs; balance; stoop; knell; crouch; . . . occasionally
crawl; [and] reaching over head with the left arm is limited
to occasional[, ]” such a person could do the job of
welder. Id. at 43-44. Ms. Williams testified that
such an individual would be able to do the job of welder. AR
at 44. Ms. Williams further testified that there are 304, 500
welder jobs available in the national economy, and 2, 978
such jobs in Arizona. Id. The ALJ added a further
restriction of being able to stand or walk two (2) hours in
an eight (8) hour day to the hypothetical. Id. at
45. Ms. Williams confirmed that such a person would be
restricted to sedentary work. Id.
counsel asked Ms. Williams about the ALJ's hypothetical
person number one, adding a restriction to the left upper
extremity of “occasional reaching; gripping; and
grasping; and handling; and feeling” due to multiple
surgical procedures. Id. at 45-46. Ms. Williams
testified that a person with those additional restrictions
would not be able to perform the job of a welder. AR at 46.
Plaintiff's counsel posed a question regarding second
hypothetical individual “who can lift and carry with
right arm only; standing up to three-hours in a work day;
never crawl; climb; push; pull; gross flame - and fine
manipulations are limited to occasional with the left”
and whether or not such an individual would be able to do any
past work. Id. Ms. Williams testified that such an
individual could not do the past relevant work of welder, and
that such an individual would be relegated to light work.
Id. at 47.
Williams further testified that her testimony was consistent
with her ...