This social security action was submitted to the court, without oral argument, for ruling on plaintiff's motion for summary judgment or remand, and defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment. For the reasons explained below, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is granted, the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) is reversed, and this matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this order.
On September 19, 2003, plaintiff applied for disability benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act (Act). (Transcript (Tr.) at 49-51.) Plaintiff alleged disability beginning September 11, 2001 due to injuries to his neck, back, and arm. (Tr. at 58.) Plaintiff's application was denied initially on January 15, 2004, and upon reconsideration on April 9, 2004. (Tr. at 35-36.) Pursuant to plaintiff's request for hearing dated May 17, 2004, a hearing was held before an administrative law judge (ALJ) on March 21, 2005, at which time plaintiff represented himself and testified. (Tr. at 48, 255-87.)
In a decision issued on September 16, 2005, ALJ Theodore Slocum determined that plaintiff was not disabled at any time through that date. (Tr. at 18-29.) The ALJ listed the following findings at the conclusion of his decision:
1. The claimant meets the non-disability requirements for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits set forth in Section 216(i) of the Social Security Act and is insured for benefits through December 31, 2004.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset of disability.
3. The claimant's degenerative disc disease of the cervical and lumbar spine and left elbow cubital tunnel syndrome status post anterior submuscular transposition of the left ulnar nerve at the elbow are considered "severe" based on the requirements in the Regulations 20 CFR § 404.1520(c).
4. These medically determinable impairments do not meet or medically equal one of the listed impairments in Appendix 1, Subpart P, Regulation No. 4.
5. The undersigned finds the claimant's allegations regarding his limitations are not totally credible for the reasons set forth in the body of the decision.
6. The claimant has the following residual functional capacity: the claimant retains the residual functional capacity for no more than the full range of sedentary work except that he has manipulative limitations precluding power gripping in his left hand and no more than occasional power gripping in his right hand and postural limitations precluding climbing of ropes, ladders and scaffolds, and no more than occasional crawling, climbing of ramps/stairs, crouching, kneeling or stooping.
7. The claimant is unable to perform any of his past relevant work (20 CFR § 404.1565).
8. The claimant is a "younger individual" (20 CFR § 404.1563).
9. The claimant has a "high school (or high school equivalent) education" (20 CFR § 404.1564).
10. The claimant has transferable skills from skilled work previously performed as described in the body of the decision*fn2 (20 CFR § 404.1568).
11. The claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform substantially all of the full range of sedentary work*fn3 (20 CFR § 404.1567).
12. Based [on] Social Security Rulings 83-14 and 85-15, and the claimant's age, education, work experience and residual functional capacity as described above, the claimant is able to make a successful adjustment to work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy; a finding of "not disabled" is therefore reached within the ...