Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her applications for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act. The parties have filed cross motions for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the court grants plaintiff's motion, denies the commissioner's motion, and remands the case for further proceedings.
Plaintiff protectively applied for a period of disability, DIB and
SSI, on April 25, 2006,
alleging that she had been disabled since August 31, 2002.*fn1
Administrative Record ("AR") 33, 35, 138. Plaintiff's
applications were initially denied on August 31, 2006, and
upon reconsideration on April 19, 2008. Id. at 47, 55. On December 2, 2008,
a hearing was held before administrative law judge ("ALJ") Thomas P.
Tielens. Id. at 384. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the
hearing, at which she and a vocational expert (VE) testified. Id. at
On May 18, 2009, the ALJ issued a decision finding that plaintiff was not disabled under sections 216(i), 223(d), and 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Act.*fn2 Id. at 22-31. The ALJ made the following specific findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2007.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 25, 2004, the amended alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: mild degenerative disc disease; questionable diagnosis of reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), left arm (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
4. 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 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds 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 only occasional pushing or pulling with non dominant left upper extremity (LUE); occasional overhead reaching; occasional handling with LUE; occasional crouching and crawling; and unskilled work due to possible side effects of medication.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born [in] 1958 and was 44 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently changed age category to closely approaching advanced age. (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. 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 are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can performed (20 CFR 404.1569, 404.1569a, 416.969, and 416.969a).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from August 31, 2002 through the date of this ...