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, defendant's cross-motion is denied, the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) is reversed, and the matter is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this order.
On July 3, 2007, plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act), alleging disability beginning on January 1, 2002. (Transcript (Tr.) at 116-22.) Plaintiff's application was denied initially and on reconsideration. (Id. at 79-81.)
Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), and an administrative hearing was held before an ALJ on August 11, 2009. (Id. at 32-60.) Plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified at that administrative hearing. In a decision issued on October 20, 2009, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled. (Id. at 21-31.) The ALJ entered the following findings:
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 3, 2007, the application date (20 CFR 416.971 et seq.).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, HIV, and hepatitis C (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
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 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a) except she is limited to no climbing of ladders/ropes or scaffolds. She is restricted to occasional climbing of ramps or stairs, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, or crawling. She should avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold, fumes, gases, odors, dusts and poor ventilation. She can remember and carry out only simple job instructions; she can maintain concentration, persistence and pace for simple job tasks; she can interact appropriately with supervisors or co-workers with only occasional public contact.
5. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965). 6. The claimant was born on April 17, 1962 and was 45 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 45-49, on the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.963).
7. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate 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 416.969(a)).
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since July 3, 2007, the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)). (Tr. at 23-30.)
On September 1, 2010, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's October 20, 2009 decision. (Id. at 1-3.) ...