This social security action was submitted to the court without oral argument for ruling on plaintiff's motion for summary judgment. For the reasons explained below, plaintiff's motion 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 August 25, 2006, plaintiff filed formal applications for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act (the Act) and for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Act, alleging disability commencing on April 15, 2006, due to end-stage liver disease, alcoholism, pancreatitis, and hepatitis C. (Transcript (Tr.) at 92-102, 112.) The applications were denied initially in November 2006 and upon reconsideration in March 2007. (Tr. at 59-73.) On September 10, 2007, a hearing was held before an administrative law judge (ALJ) in Medford, Oregon. (Tr. at 28-58, 74.) Plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared and testified, as did plaintiff's stepfather and a vocational expert. (Tr. at 28-29, 46-51, 54-57, 89.) In a decision issued on October 26, 2007, the ALJ found plaintiff not disabled at any time from April 15, 2006, through the date of the decision. (Tr. at 13-22.) The following findings were entered:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2009.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 15, 2006, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1520(b), 404.1571 et seq., 416.920(b) and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following "severe" combination of impairments: disc space narrowing with mild degenerative facet disease, bilaterally, at L3-S1, as shown on x-rays of the lumbar spine (Exhibit 17F, page 4); and alcohol-induced liver disease and pancreatitis, both improved since the claimant stopped drinking in July 2006 (Exhibits 10F, 15F, 17F, page 2; 20F; and 28F, pages 18-19 (20 CFR 404.1520(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, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant's acute liver and pancreatic conditions on compliance with treatment and sobriety resolved inside 12 months of the alleged disability onset date to allow him, in conjunction with a spinal impairment, to perform a residual functional capacity for all functions of light work, as defined by regulation, except for no performance of jobs with a high probability of major injury due to clotting problems.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on May 2, 1956. Since the alleged disability onset date, he was 49 to 51 years of age, which by regulation, are as a younger age individual, 18-49 and an individual closely approaching advanced age, 50-54 (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has a limited 11th grade education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. The claimant has acquired work skills from past relevant work as a caregiver (20 CFR 404.1568 and 416.968).
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience and residual functional capacity, the claimant has acquired work skills from past relevant work that are transferable to other occupations with jobs existing in significant numbers in the national economy (20 CFR 404.1560(c), 404.1566, 404.1568(d), 416.960(c), 416.966, and 416.968(d)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from April 15, 2006 through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)). (Tr. at 15-21.)
On May 23, 2008, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision. (Tr. at 1-4, 8.) Plaintiff sought judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) by ...