The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court
ORDER: (1) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Doc. No. 12]; and (2) GRANTING DEFENDANT'S CROSS-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT [Doc. No. 15].
Currently before the Court are Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and Defendant's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. Having considered the parties' arguments, and for the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion and GRANTS Defendant's cross-motion.
Plaintiff is a 41-year-old male with at least a high school education. (Administrative Record ("AR") at 27.) Prior to the onset of the medical conditions that form the basis of his disability request, Plaintiff was a cabinet maker and a cook. (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that he became unable to work in 1999 and 2000 due to a work injury. (Id. at 70.) Plaintiff resumed working in 2001, but had to stop again in early September 2003, and has not worked since. (Id.) On July 25, 2005, Plaintiff protectively filed an application for a period of disability and disability insurance benefits, alleging an onset date of September 2, 2003. (Id. at 20.) The claim was denied initially on May 12, 2006, and upon reconsideration on January 10, 2007. (Id. at 32-36, 40-44.) Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a timely request for a hearing, which was held on August 23, 2007. (Id. at 20.) Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearing. (Id.) Mary E. Jesko, an impartial vocational expert, also appeared. (Id.)
The hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Edward D. Steinman. In a written decision dated October 10, 2007, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not under a disability as defined in the Social Security Act at any time from September 2, 2003 through the date last insured, June 30, 2007. (Id. at 28.) Specifically, the ALJ made the following pertinent findings:
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from his alleged onset date of September 2, 2003 through his date last insured of June 30, 2007. . . . .
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: pain disorder; depressive disorder NOS. . . . .
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. . . . .
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform light work with a limit to sit or stand for six hours each in an eight-hour workday; the need to alternately sit or stand at will; occasional stooping, crouching, climbing stairs or ramps, crawling, kneeling, and balancing; avoid uneven terrain; avoid climbing ropes, ladders or scaffolds; avoid vibratory tools; frequent use of the hands for fingering, feeling, handling, gripping, and grasping; no work in a hazardous work environment; simple and repetitive tasks; limited public contact and limited co-worker contact. . . . .
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was unable to perform last relevant work.
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is "not disabled," whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills.
10. Through the date last insured, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant could have performed.
11. The claimant was not under a disability as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from September 2, 2003, the alleged onset date, through June 30, 2007, the date last insured. (Id. at 22-28 (internal citations omitted).) Plaintiff subsequently requested a review of the hearing decision by the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council denied the request, making the ALJ's decision the final decision in this matter. (Id. at 4-6.) The Appeals Council noted that in reaching its decision, it also looked at the post-hearing medical records submitted by Plaintiff.*fn1 (Id. at 4.)
Plaintiff commenced this action on December 15, 2009, seeking judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). [Doc. No. 1]. Plaintiff subsequently filed the present Motion for Summary Judgment, and Defendant filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. [Doc. Nos. 12, 15]. Plaintiff then ...