This social security action was submitted to the court without oral argument for ruling on plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment. For the reasons explained below, plaintiff's motion is granted, the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the Commissioner) is reversed, and the matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this order.
On March 31, 2006, plaintiff applied for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act), alleging that she became disabled on October 12, 2005 due to a heart condition, a mental problem, and back and chest pain. (Transcript (Tr.) at 93-111.) The application was denied on October 19, 2006. (Tr. at 52-53, 65-68.) On May 10, 2007, plaintiff filed a new application, alleging that she became disabled on October 12, 2005, due to a heart condition and mental depression. (Tr. at 71-83.) The second application was denied initially on September 24, 2007 and upon reconsideration on December 20, 2007. (Tr. at 55-64.) A hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on September 2, 2008. (Tr. at 48-49, 259-78.) Plaintiff was represented at the hearing by an attorney and testified through an interpreter. (Tr. at 259-71.) A vocational expert also testified at the administrative hearing. (Tr. at 271-76.) In a decision issued on January 30, 2009, the ALJ found plaintiff not disabled. (Tr. at 13-25.) The ALJ entered the following findings:
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 10, 2007, the application date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: mild degenerative disc disease, decreased vision, and depression (20 CFR 416.921).
3. 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 416.925 and 416.926).
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.96(b) except she is limited to simple, repetitive tasks.
5. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born on September 16, 1962 and was 44 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.963).
7. The claimant is not able to communicate in English, and is considered in the same way as an individual who is illiterate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the claimant does not have past relevant work (20 CFR 416.968).
9. 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 CFR 416.969 and 416.969a).
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since May 10, 2007, the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)). (Tr. at 15-25.)
On April 22, 2009, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision, thereby making it the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. at 5-9.) Plaintiff sought judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) by filing the complaint in this action on June 22, 2009.
The Commissioner's decision that a claimant is not disabled will be upheld if the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole and the proper legal standards were applied. Schneider v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 223 F.3d 968, 973 (9th Cir. 2000); Morgan v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999). The findings of the Commissioner as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, are conclusive. Miller v. Heckler, 770 F.2d 845, 847 (9th Cir. 1985). Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Osenbrock v. Apfel, 240 F.3d ...