United States District Court, E.D. California
CAROLYN K. DELANEY, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying an application for Disabled Widow's Benefits ("DWB") based on the earnings account of her late husband pursuant to Title II of the Social Security Act ("Act"). For the reasons discussed below, the court will deny plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and grant the Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment.
Plaintiff, born January 29, 1955, applied on November 9, 2010 for DWB, alleging disability beginning May 15, 2008. Administrative Transcript ("AT") 75, 96, 169-171. Plaintiff alleged she was unable to work due to neck, shoulder and back problems and depression. In an amended decision dated January 16, 2013, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was disabled beginning on January 29, 2010 but was not disabled prior to that date and was not therefore eligible for Widow's Insurance Benefits because she did not become disabled on or before March 31, 2009. AT 10-21. The ALJ made the following findings (citations to 20 C.F.R. omitted):
It was previously found that the claimant is the unmarried widow of the deceased insured worker and has attained the age of 50. The claimant met the non-disability requirements for disabled widow's benefits set forth in [the Act].
The prescribed period ended on March 31, 2009.
The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date.
Since the alleged onset date of disability, May 15, 2008, the claimant has had the following severe impairments: right neck and right shoulder and back pain, and degenerative disk disease of the lower back.
Since the alleged onset date of disability, May 15, 2008, the claimant has not had 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.
After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that prior to January 29, 2010, the date the claimant became disabled, the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform less than the full range of light work as defined in [the regulations]. Specifically, the claimant could lift and/or carry ten pounds frequently, twenty pounds occasionally; she could sit, stand and/or walk for six hours out of an eight-hour workday; she could frequently push/pull with the right upper extremity, but could never reach over head with the right upper extremity; she could frequently climb ramps and stairs, stoop, kneel, and crouch; she is never to climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; she could occasionally crawl and she is to have no exposure to hazards such as moving machinery and unprotected heights.
Since May 15, 2008, the claimant has been unable to perform any past relevant work.
Prior to the established disability onset date, the claimant was an individual closely approaching advanced age. On January 29, 2010, the claimant's age category changed to an individual of advanced age.
The claimant has at least a high-school education and is able to communicate in English.
Prior to January 29, 2010, 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. Beginning on January 29, ...