The opinion of the court was delivered by: Linares, District Judge.
Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Kevin P. Waldrip's Appeal seeking review of Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Leonard O'Larsch's final determination denying Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB"). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 78, no oral argument was heard before this Court. Plaintiff claims there is not substantial evidence to support the ALJ's determination because no medical examiner was consulted at either the hearing or through interrogatories. Plaintiff requests this matter either be reversed or remanded to the Commissioner for a new hearing and a new decision. For the reasons set forth below, this Court finds the ALJ erred by not consulting a medical expert to determine disability onset date, and remands this case for further analysis.
On June 12, 2006, Plaintiff filed an application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits. Plaintiff alleged disability due to childhood abuse, major depression, and chronic adjustment disorder beginning on September 1, 1997. The claim was initially denied. Around Fall 2006, Plaintiff alleged disability due to peripheral vascular disease, a new illness. The claim was denied again upon reconsideration. On May 7, 2009, Plaintiff testified at an administrative hearing held before the Administrative Law Judge Leonard O'Larsch, who found Plaintiff was not disabled from September 1, 1997, the alleged date of disability, through December 31, 2002.On September 25, 2009 the Appeals Council denied review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. Plaintiff appealed this decision.
Claimant, Kevin P. Waldrip, was 58 years of age on the date of the decision and has a tenth grade education. R. at 51, 149. Claimant's last job of record was as a driver from 1995 to 1997, making deliveries of pet livestock. R. at 53, 146. While employed as a driver, Claimant lifted 50 pounds or more, and sat for 10 hours daily. R. at 146-147. Claimant's employment terminated due to a betrayal issue with a co-worker and an immediate supervisor. R. at 145. Plaintiff also testified that between 2002 and 2005, he worked off the books doing various things including plumbing, sheet work, and painting in exchange for housing. R. at 70-71.
Claimant testified that in 2000, he started to get a cramp-like sensation in his leg. R. at 52. But, Claimant was not financially able to see a doctor until 2006. R. at 52. Thus, there is no medical evidence in the record to demonstrate that Claimant had peripheral neuropathy prior to 2002, the year Claimant was last insured for disability benefits. Claimant notes that he did not have symptoms in 1997. R. at 66. According to his testimony, Claimant's leg progressively worsened. R. Claimant testified that he took some medication for his leg, and it seemingly stopped, but then worsened again. R. at 59. Claimant also testified that he was unable to stand or walk for six non-continuous hours over an eight-hour period in 2002. R. at 64-65. Claimant took public transportation and walked a few blocks to attend the hearing, with breaks. R. at 57.
Claimant was sexually abused as a child by a priest. R. at 55. Claimant attributes his inability to hold a long term job to difficulties with authority figures stemming from this incident.
R. at 54-55, 59. Plaintiff testified that he becomes anxious when speaking to a person in a supervisory capacity. R. at 61. Claimant is currently taking Lexapro, Wellbutrin, and Risperdal.
R. at 62. Also, Claimant testified that he had the ability to concentrate on and remember the plot of a movie and is able to read a newspaper in 2002. R. at 63. Claimaint testified that he had been receiving treatment from a mental health therapist. R. at 72.
At the time of the hearing, Claimant was temporarily house-sitting for a friend, and stated that upon his friend's return, he would be living in his car again, where he has been living since 2005. R. at 68-69.Effective June 2006, Claimant qualified to receive Supplemental Security Income ("SSI"), for both peripheral vascular disease and depression. R. at 43.