United States District Court, E.D. California
VONDA K. KIRK, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Defendant.
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 discussed below, plaintiff's motion is granted, defendant's motion is denied, and the matter is remanded for further consideration.
Plaintiff filed an application for a period of disability and DIB on March 2, 2006, alleging that she had been disabled since April 9, 2004. Administrative Record ("AR") 232-237. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Id. at C143-147, 151-154. On March 25, 2009, September 17, 2009, and May 25, 2010, hearings were held before administrative law judge ("ALJ") Peter F. Belli. Id. at 48-138. Plaintiff was represented by counsel at the hearings, at which she and a vocational expert ("VE") testified. Id. On July 16, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision finding that plaintiff was not disabled under sections 216(i) and 223(d) of the Act. Id. at 33-42. The ALJ made the following specific findings:
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2010.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 9, 2004, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq. ).
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3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative cervical disk disease with disk protrusion and mild bilateral foraminal narrowing at disk C3-4, as well as right upper extremity radiculitis corresponding to C5-6 disk bulge; bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger thumb and tenosynovitis of the right first dorsal compartment status-post bilateral carpal release surgeries and bilateral trigger finger release surgeries; neurogenic bladder; depressive disorder not otherwise specified and borderline personality traits (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 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 following residual functional capacity: lift and/or carry; push and/or pull 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; sit 8 hours in an 8-hour workday with normal breaks; stand and/or walk for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday with normal breaks; cannot perform activities that require climbing of ladders, ropes or scaffolds; cannot perform activities involving crawling; is limited to occasional stooping, crouching or kneeling; is able to perform activities involving frequent twisting and/or flexing of her cervical spine; can occasionally perform activities above shoulder level; can frequently perform activities involving extending and/or flexing of her wrists; can perform gross manipulation, grasping, and/or fingering on a frequent basis; no limitations on her ability to understand, remember and carryout short, simple instructions; moderate limitations in her ability to understand, remember and carry out detailed job instructions; has no limitations on her ability to make simple, work-related decisions; has a slight limitations in her ability to make judgment on detailed work-related decisions; is capable of occasional exposure to the public; has a slight limitation in her ability to interact appropriately with supervisors and coworkers; moderate limitations in her ability to respond normally to work-related pressure/stress and/or changes in her work routine.
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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 December 7, 1965 and was 38 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563).
8. The claimant has at least a high school equivalency 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. 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 performed (20 CFR 404.1569 and 404.1569(a)).
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11. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from April 9, 2004, through the date of ...