United States District Court, E.D. California
EDMUND F. BRENNAN, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security ("Commissioner") denying her application for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") under Title II of the Social Security Act. The parties' cross-motions for summary judgment are pending. For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's motion is denied and defendant's motion is granted.
Plaintiff filed an application for a period of disability and DIB on November 18, 2008, alleging that she had been disabled since August 9, 2007. Administrative Record ("AR") 224-228. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. at 136-139, 141-145. On August 30, 2010, a hearing was held before administrative law judge ("ALJ") Peter F. Belli. Id. at 75-110. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearing, at which she and a vocational expert ("VE") testified. Id.
On December 14, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision finding that plaintiff was not disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Act. Id. at 116-123. Plaintiff's request for review by Appeals Council was granted and on November 4, 2011, the Appeals Council vacated the ALJ's 2010 decision and remanded the matter for further consideration of plaintiff's residual functional capacity ("RFC"). Id. at 130-135.
Another hearing was held before the ALJ on April 17, 2012. Plaintiff and a vocational expert provided additional testimony. Id. at 43-74. The ALJ issued a new decision on July 18, 2012, again finding that plaintiff was not disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Act. Id. at 12-35. The ALJ made the following specific 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 August 9, 2007, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq. ).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) status post surgery, chemical asthma/reactive airway disease (RAD), cervical degenerative disc disease (DDD), chronic neck pain, and obesity (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
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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, and 404.1526).
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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) except occasionally climb stairs, walk on uneven terrain and slopes, no crawling or climbing ladders/ropes/scaffolds, occasionally stoop, crouch and kneel, frequently flex and extend the waist, frequently grasp and finger, no exposure to concentrated gases or temperature extremes, occasional exposure to humidity and extreme wetness, and no working at unprotected heights or around unprotected hazardous machinery.
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6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).
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7. The claimant was born on September 23, 1957 and was 49 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently changed age category to closely approaching advanced age (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. The claimant has acquired work skills from past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1568).
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10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, the claimant has acquired work skills from past relevant work that are transferable to other occupations with jobs existing in significant numbers in the ...