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Self v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 21, 2014

RACHEL Y. SELF, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

CRAIG M. KELLISON, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff, who is proceeding with retained counsel, brings this action for judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Pursuant to the written consent of all parties, this case is before the undersigned as the presiding judge for all purposes, including entry of final judgment. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). Pending before the court are plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (Doc. 17) and defendant's cross-motion for summary judgment (Doc. 20). For the reasons discussed below, the court will deny plaintiff's motion for summary judgment or remand and grant the Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment.

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY[1]

Plaintiff applied for social security benefits on April 3, 2007, alleging an onset of disability on July 1, 2003, due to disabilities including carpal tunnel, plantar fasciitis in right foot, and bulging discs (Certified administrative record ("CAR") 92, 169-70, 212-13). Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff requested an administrative hearing, which was held on June 11, 2009 with a supplemental hearing on March 24, 2010, before Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Peter F. Belli. In a May 12, 2010, decision, the ALJ concluded that plaintiff is not disabled[2] based on the following findings:

1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on March 31, 2007.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of July 1, 2003 through her date last insured of March 31, 2007 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq. ).
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: right plantar fasciitis, right tarsal tunnel syndrome, degenerative disc disease of the lumbosacral spine, lumbar strain, mild obesity, and depression (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except the claimant is precluded from prolonged standing/walking. She is unable to use her right lower extremity to manipulate foot controls. She is precluded from climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She may occasionally climb ramps and stair, and occasionally stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She is unlimited in her ability to understand, remember, and carry out short, simple instructions; but she is moderately limited [FN1] in her ability to understand, remember, and carry out detailed instructions. The claimant is unlimited in her ability to make judgments on simple decisions, but slightly limited [FN2] in the ability to make judgments on detailed decisions. The claimant is slightly limited in her ability to interact appropriately with supervisors, co-workers, and the public. She is moderately limited in her ability to respond appropriately to changes in a routine work setting, and in her ability to respond appropriately to work pressures in a usual work setting.
[FN1: Moderately limited is defined as greater than mildly limited and less than markedly limited, but still able to function satisfactorily in this area.]
[FN2: Slightly limited is defined as mild limitations in this area, but generally functions well.]
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on May 13, 1975 and was 31 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the date last insured (20 CFR 404.1563).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
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. Throught the date last insured, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual funcational capacity, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant could have performed (20 CFR 404.1569 and 404.1569(a)).
11. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from July 1, 2003, the alleged onset date, through March 31, 2007, ...

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