The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge
ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S SOCIAL SECURITY COMPLAINT (Doc. 1)
Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (the "Commissioner" or "Defendant") denying her applications for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") pursuant to Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 1383(c)(3). The matter is currently before the Court on the parties' briefs, which were submitted, without oral argument, to the Honorable Sheila K. Oberto, United States Magistrate Judge.*fn1
Plaintiff was born in 1944, completed the twelfth grade, and previously worked as an assembler. (Administrative Record ("AR") 162, 175, 180.) On February 23, 2004, Plaintiff filed applications for DIB and SSI, alleging disability beginning on December 1, 2002, due to diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, visual deficits, hypertension, vertigo, and upper extremity osteoporosis. (AR 162-64, 276-79.)
As further discussed below, Plaintiff raises five grounds for reversal, one of which merits remand to the Commissioner for further proceedings to clarify the Commissioner's determination at step three of the sequential disability evaluation process. Accordingly, the Court discusses the relevant evidence below.
On October 27, 2004, Sadda Reddy, M.D., a state agency medical consultant, reviewed the record and opined that Plaintiff had no exertional limitations in sitting, standing, walking or pushing/pulling, and no postural or manipulative limitations. (AR 232-41). Dr. Reddy opined that, because of sensory deficits in Plaintiff's feet, she should avoid walking on uneven terrain and unlighted areas. (AR 236.) Dr. Reddy noted that Plaintiff's diabetic neuropathy did not result in any motor deficits, she had normal gait and ranges of motion, and she had intact fine and dextrous finger control. (Tr. 233, 240.)
B. Administrative Proceedings
The Commissioner denied Plaintiff's applications initially and again on reconsideration; consequently, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). (AR 35-44, 59-74, 280-82.)
On May 17, 2006, ALJ Christopher Larsen held a hearing where Plaintiff, Plaintiff's friend, and a vocational expert ("VE") testified. The ALJ issued a decision on June 29, 2006, finding Plaintiff not disabled. (AR 45-54, 314-40.) The Appeals Council granted Plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision and remanded the case to the ALJ on June 18, 2007. (AR 55-58.)
On January 21, 2009, upon remand from the Appeals Council, ALJ Larsen held a hearing where Plaintiff, a medical expert, and a VE testified. (AR 284-313.)
At the first hearing, Plaintiff testified that she had body aches and extremity numbness due to diabetes. (AR 319, 324-25.) Plaintiff testified that she felt dizzy every day, and would fall down or faint. (AR 325-27.) Plaintiff also testified that she could not lift very much weight or sit or walk for very long. (AR 320.) Plaintiff took over-the-counter Tylenol for the pain. Plaintiff took medication for her diabetes every day. (AR 327.) Plaintiff testified that she had "severe problems" with her eyes and had corrective cataract surgery seven years ago. (AR 322.) Plaintiff testified that she currently had blurred vision and, although she had a driver's license, her doctor told her she could not drive a car. (AR 322-23.) Plaintiff did minimal household chores slowly. (AR 323-24.)
At the 2009 hearing, Plaintiff testified that her symptoms had worsened since the last hearing. (AR 289.) Plaintiff testified that she had been in Laos from 2007 until 2008. (AR 289.) Plaintiff testified that she had not received any medical care since 2006 because she did not have Medicare. (AR 289.) Plaintiff testified that her diabetes caused daily body aches, headaches and numbness in her extremities. (AR 294-95.) Plaintiff testified that she could not use her arms or hands anymore, could not sit for very long because of back and leg pain, and spent most ...