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Garcia v. Commissioner of Social Security Administration

United States District Court, D. Arizona

June 6, 2019

Juan Carlos Garcia, Plaintiff,
v.
Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER

          LESLIE A. BOWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         The plaintiff, Juan Carlos Garcia, filed this action for review of the final decision of the Commissioner for Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Doc. 1, p. 1)

         The Magistrate Judge presides over this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) having received the written consent of both parties. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 73; (Doc. 13)

         In this case, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) failed to provide specific, clear, and convincing reasons for discounting the claimant's subjective symptom testimony. Accordingly, this case is remanded for further proceedings.

         PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         On July 23, 2014, Garcia filed an application for supplemental security income pursuant to Title XVI of the Social Security Act. (Tr. 99) He alleged disability beginning on April 9, 2009, due to PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), bipolar disorder, anxiety, diabetes, fractured vertebrae, and high blood pressure. (Tr. 99, 215)

         His application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. (Tr. 123-126); (Tr. 133-136) Garcia requested review and appeared with counsel at a hearing before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Charles Davis on February 6, 2017. (Tr. 13) In his decision, dated July 3, 2017, the ALJ found Garcia was not disabled because, considering his age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, he could work as a Bench Assembler (DOT # 706.684-022), Stock Checker Apparel (DOT # 299.667-014), or Cashier II (DOT # 211.462-010). (Tr. 105-107)

         Garcia requested review, but on May 22, 2018, the Appeals Council denied review making the decision of the ALJ the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 114-117) Garcia subsequently filed this action seeking review of that final decision. (Doc. 1)

         Claimant's Work History and Medical History

         Garcia completed his GED (general equivalency degree) in 1998. (Tr. 216) His work history is somewhat sporadic. In 2001-2002, Garcia worked at the Timber Lodge Restaurant as a cook. (Tr. 35-37) In 2005, Garcia worked at Cunningham Concrete for “four to six months” digging ditches and tying rebar. (Tr. 35, 38)

         In 2009, Garcia was involved in a serious traffic accident. (Tr. 25) His vehicle was hit and rolled over. (Tr. 25) His daughter was ejected from the vehicle and suffered a brain injury. (Tr. 25) Garcia suffered a back injury, which continues to cause him discomfort. (Tr. 25) For the pain, he takes Percocet and naproxen. (Tr. 29) Garcia testified that he has PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) resulting from the accident. (Tr. 32) He is very moody and has difficulty sleeping. (Tr. 32) He takes Diazepam for anxiety, but it causes him memory loss. (Tr. 34)

         In 2011, he worked for six weeks at the rock and mineral show. (Tr. 15) He helped put up tents and stock tables. (Tr. 29) That year, he also worked as a landscaper and performed light construction work. (Tr. 31) In 2012, he applied for work at Acme Telemarketing, but he was not hired. (Tr. 16) At the hearing before the ALJ, Garcia explained that he could no longer work because of back and knee pain. (Tr. 16-17)

         Garcia lives with his three children and their mother. (Tr. 18) On a typical day, Garcia exercises in the morning and then takes a walk. (Tr. 21) He can walk a mile, but it takes him about an hour because he stops to stretch every quarter mile. (Tr. 21, 23) He exercises and stretches with bands and rope. (Tr. 21) Sometimes he has good days, and sometimes, he says, “I'm on the floor screaming on my back because it's just too much for me . . . .” (Tr. 21) He can load the dishwasher or do a light load of clothes, “like towels or something.” (Tr. 20) He can do a little bit of cooking. (Tr. 20) He does not do grocery shopping. (Tr. 20) He does not take out the trash. (Tr. 24) He volunteers as an usher at St. Ambrose on Sundays. (Tr. 22) He can drive his truck to his doctors' appointments. (Tr. 22) Garcia estimates he can lift six or seven pounds. (Tr. 24)

         Valerie Williams testified at the hearing as a vocational expert. (Tr. 34) Williams testified that a person with Garcia's education, age, and work history, who can perform light work and is limited to simple, routine tasks with occasional, complex tasks with routine supervision and further limited to frequent communications with co-workers and the general public on a superficial work basis, could not perform any of Garcia's past relevant work. (Tr. 39-40) Such a person could work, however, as a Bench Assembler (DOT # 706.684-022), Stock Checker Apparel (DOT # 299.667-014), or Cashier II (DOT # 211.462-010). (Tr. 40)

         In June of 2010, Garcia was examined by Stephen D. Bailey, Ed.D., for the disability determination service. (Tr. 350) Bailey diagnosed depressive disorder and anxiety disorder. (Tr. ...


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