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 August 15, 2008, plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act (the Act) and for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Act, alleging disability beginning on March 15, 2007. (Transcript (Tr.) at 123-37.) Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. (Id. at 65-69, 73-77.) A hearing was held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on January 12, 2010. (Id. at 25-55.) Plaintiff was represented by counsel and testified at the administrative hearing. In a decision issued on February 26, 2010, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled. (Id. at 20.) The ALJ entered the following findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2012.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 15, 2007, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: history of alcohol dependence, history of cocaine abuse, depressive disorder, varicose veins (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 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 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). The claimant can lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently and can sit, stand and walk for a total of 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. The claimant can only occasionally climb, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl. The claimant is not significantly limited in his ability to understand, remember and carry out simple and complex instructions or his ability to relate and interact with supervisors, co-workers and the public. The claimant is slightly limited in his ability to maintain concentration, attention, persistence and pace, associate with day-to-day work activity and adapt to stresses common to a normal work environment.
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a drill press operator. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from March 15, 2007, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f) and 416.920(f)).
On May 12, 2011, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request for review of the ALJ's decision. (Id. at 1-3.) Plaintiff sought judicial review pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) by filing the complaint in this action on July 14, 2011.
The Commissioner's decision that a claimant is not disabled will be upheld if the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence in the record as a whole and the proper legal standards were applied. Schneider v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 223 F.3d 968, 973 (9th Cir. 2000); Morgan v. Comm'r of the Soc. Sec. Admin., 169 F.3d 595, 599 (9th Cir. 1999). The findings of the Commissioner as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, are conclusive. Miller v. Heckler, 770 F.2d 845, 847 (9th Cir. 1985). Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion. Osenbrock v. Apfel, 240 F.3d ...