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Hareld v. Astrue

March 25, 2009

ROBERT L. HARELD, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MICHAEL J. ASTRUE, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, DEFENDANT.



ORDER

Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying his applications for Disability Income Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act ("Act"), respectively. Apparently, plaintiff alleges a closed period of disability. However, as noted below, there are inconsistencies as to what period of time was considered, whether plaintiff was disabled as of the date of onset he alleges, and if so, what date the period of disability ended. For the reasons discussed below, this matter will be remanded for further findings.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, born July 4, 1958, applied for Disability Insurance Benefits (insured through June 30, 2007), and Social Security Income, on May 31, 2005, alleging that he became unable to work beginning September 20, 2002. Administrative Record ("AR") 11, 48-51, 58, 168-170, 173. At the April 9, 2007 hearing before an administrative law judge ("ALJ") plaintiff testified that on September 20, 2002, while at his regular employment as a carpenter, he injured his head and lower back when he fell into a pit. AR 177. He testified that he started feeling better in February or March 2006, when he began looking for work, and that he went back to work on June 12, 2006. AR 178-179. Plaintiff testified at length about his symptoms of lower back pain, radiculopathy, and headaches, and his treatment for these symptoms. AR 177-193. He also testified that he had successfully pursued a Workers' Compensation claim. AR 178.

The ALJ issued a decision on May 15, 2007, finding that plaintiff was not disabled.*fn1 AR 8, 11-19. The ALJ made the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through June 30, 2007.

2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 20, 2002, the alleged onset date until March 2006 (20 CFR 404.1520(b), 404.1571 et seq., 416.920(b) and 416.971 et seq.).

3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: chronic low back pain with radiculopathy (20 CFR 494.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).

4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).

5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work with occasional alternating between sitting and standing and with no frequent bending and stooping.

6. The claimant was unable to perform his past relevant work until June 2006 (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).

7. The claimant was born on July 4, 1958 and was 44 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963). He is now 48 years of age.

8. The claimant has a limited 11th grade education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).

9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because applying the Medical-Vocational Rules directly supports a finding of "not disabled," whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).

10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform (20 ...


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