Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying his application for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. For the reasons discussed below, the court grants plaintiff's motion, denies defendant's motion, and remands the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Plaintiff, born July 20, 1974, formally applied for DIB and SSI on October 12, 2006 and October 27, 2006. Administrative Record ("AR") 17, 25. Plaintiff's application alleged that he had been disabled since September 26, 2006. Id. at 17. His application was denied initially and upon reconsideration, and he requested an administrative hearing. Id. On October 7, 2008, a hearing was held before administrative law judge ("ALJ") Mark C. Ramsey. Id. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearing, and he and his mother testified. Id.
The ALJ issued a decision on March 25, 2009, finding that plaintiff was not disabled prior to September 8, 2008, but became disabled on that date.*fn1 Id. at 17-27. The ALJ made the following specific findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2010.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 26, 2006, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1520(b), 404.1571 et seq., 416.920(b) and 416.971 et seq.).
3. Since the alleged onset date of disability, the claimant has had the following severe impairments: diabetes mellitus (DM), diabetic peripheral neuropathy, neuropathic pain, and diabetic retinopathy (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)). ***
4. Prior to September 8, 2008, the date claimant became disabled, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled an impairment listed in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d) and 416.920(d)).
*** 5. Prior to September 8, 2008, the date claimant became disabled, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except performing jobs requiring close detail work.
*** 6. Prior to September 8, 2008, the claimant was unable to perform past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on July 20, 1974 and was 32 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49 (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. Prior to September 8, 2008, 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 (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 were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant could have performed (20 CFR 404.1560(c), 404.1566, 416.960(c) and 416.966).
*** 11. Beginning on September 8, 2008, the severity of the claimant's VA of 20/400 on the right and vitreous hemorrhage left eye with VA of 20/150 has met the requirements of section(s) 5.02 of Appendix I.
*** 12. The claimant was not disabled prior to September 8, 2008 (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g), but became disabled on that date and has continued to be disabled through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(d) and 416.920(d)).
Plaintiff requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's decision. However, on November 25, 2008, the Appeals Council denied review, leaving the ALJ's decision as the final decision of ...