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 denied, defendant's motion is granted, and the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (Commissioner) is affirmed.
In a decision dated April 14, 2004, plaintiff was found to be disabled as of January 29, 2002, and thus entitled to Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act (the Act). (Transcript (Tr.) at 12.) However, on January 27, 2006, after a continuing disability review was conducted, plaintiff was found to have experienced medical improvement and to be no longer disabled as of January 1, 2006. (Id. at 12, 22-24, 106-109).
Thereafter, plaintiff requested a hearing and a hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on October 26, 2009. (Id. at 467-505.) Plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified at the administrative hearing. In a decision issued on February 11, 2010, the ALJ found that plaintiff's disability ended as of January 1, 2006. (Id. at 21.) The ALJ entered the following findings:
1. The most recent favorable medical decision finding that the claimant was disabled is the decision dated April 14, 2004. This is known as the "comparison point decision" or CPD.
2. At the time of the CPD, the claimant had the following medically determinable impairments: depression, anxiety, and stress disorder. These impairments were found to result in the residual functional capacity of claimant not capable of performing even simple routine tasks.
3. Through January 1, 2006, the date the claimant's disability ended, the claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity
4. The medical evidence establishes that the claimant did not develop any additional impairment after the CPD through January 1, 2006. Thus, the claimant continued to have the same impairments that she had at the time of the CPD.
5. Since January 1, 2006, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments which met or medically equaled the severity of an impairment listed in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1525 and 404.1526).
6. Medical improvement occurred as of January 1, 2006 (20 CFR 404.1594(b)(1)).
7. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, as of January 1, 2006, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following non-exertional limitations: she is limited to simple routine tasks with no frequent interaction with the public, co-workers or supervisors.
8. The claimant's medical improvement is related to the ability to work because it resulted in an increase in the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1594(c)(3)(ii)).
9. As of January 1, 2006, the claimant's impairments were severe (20 CFR 404.1594(f)(6)).
10. As of January 1, 2006, the claimant was unable to perform past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).
11. On January 1, 2006, the claimant was a younger individual age 18-49 (20 CFR 404.1563).
12. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
13. Beginning on January 1, 2006, 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).
14. As of January 1, 2006, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, the claimant was able to perform a significant number of jobs in the ...