Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her application for Widow's Disability Insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI, respectively, of the Social Security Act. For the reasons discussed below, the court grants plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, denies the Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment, and remands the case for further proceedings.
I. Factual and Procedural Background
Plaintiff Vicki Thompson filed an application for Widow's Disability Insurance benefits and SSI on July 7, 2008, alleging that she had been disabled since November 3, 2007.
Administrative Record ("AR") 79, 151. Plaintiff's application was initially denied on August 19, 2008, and upon reconsideration on January 23, 2009. Id. at 90, 95, 101, 106. On January 19, 2010, a hearing was held before administrative law judge ("ALJ") Timothy S. Snelling. Id. at 43. Plaintiff, who was represented by attorney Ann M. Cerney, testified at the hearing. Id. at 43-78.
On April 16, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision finding that plaintiff was not disabled under sections 202(e), 223(d), and 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Act.*fn1 Id. at 41. The ALJ made the following specific findings:
1. It was previously found that the claimant is the unmarried widow of the deceased insured worker and has attained the age of 50. The claimant met the non-disability requirements for disabled widow's benefits set forth in section 202(e) of the Social Security Act.
2. The prescribed period ends on November 30, 2010.
3. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 3, 2007, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
4. The claimant has the following medically severe combination of impairments: depression, bipolar disorder, asthma, hypothyroidism, neck and back pain secondary to musculoskeletal strain, and migraine headaches (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c). ...
5. 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). ...
6. 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 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except that claimant is limited to occasional bending and stooping and can have no more than frequent interaction and communication with supervisors, co-workers, and general public. ...
7. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
8. The claimant was born [in] 1954 and was 53 years old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching advanced age, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.963).
9. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
10. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the claimant does not have past relevant work ...