United States District Court, E.D. California
DALE A. DROZD, District Judge.
This social security action was submitted to the court without oral argument for ruling on plaintiff's 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 May 16, 2011, plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act ("the Act"). (Transcript ("Tr.") at 14, 72.) On May 19, 2011, plaintiff filed an application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") under Title XVI of the Act. (Id. at 14, 73.) Both applications alleged disability beginning on December 1, 2006. (Id. at 14.) Plaintiff's applications were denied initially, (id. at 88-92), and upon reconsideration. (Id. at 98-102.)
Thereafter, plaintiff requested a hearing which was held before an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") on September 5, 2012. (Id. at 28-59.) Plaintiff was represented by "a non-attorney representative, " (id. at 14), and testified at that administrative hearing. (Id. at 29.) In a decision issued on October 19, 2012, the ALJ found that plaintiff was not disabled. (Id. at 23.)
The ALJ entered the following findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2015.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 1, 2006, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq. ).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: substance abuse in early remission and degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine with sciatic on the left lower extremity (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 the severity of 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) except: he could stand and/or walk for 4 hours in an 8-hour workday, with normal breaks; he could sit for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday, with normal breaks; he could occasionally perform postural activities; and he is unable to climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on September 3, 1973 and was 33 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (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 perform (20 CFR 404.1569, 404.1569(a), 416.969, and 416.969(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from December 1, 2006, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).
(Id. at 16-22.)
On February 8, 2013, 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 ...