United States District Court, E.D. California
CAROLYN K. DELANEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
seeks judicial review of a final decision of the Commissioner
of Social Security (“Commissioner”) finding that
her disability ended on January 1, 2015 under sections 223(f)
and 1614(a)(3)(A) of the Social Security Act
(“Act”). The parties have consented to Magistrate
Judge jurisdiction to conduct all proceedings in the case,
including the entry of final judgment. 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.
born in 1965, was found disabled beginning on June 1,
2005. Administrative Transcript
(“AT”) 17, 26. The January 25, 2008 decision
finding plaintiff disabled stated that she had rheumatoid
arthritis. AT 19. Pursuant to a continuing disability review
(“CDR”), the Commissioner found that plaintiff
was no longer disabled as of January 1, 2015, in response to
which she filed a request for reconsideration. AT 115-116,
144. Plaintiff attended a hearing before a disability hearing
officer on July 14, 2015 (AT 152-165), and later received a
reconsideration determination that she was no longer
disabled. AT 166-171. Plaintiff then requested and appeared
for a hearing before an ALJ on November 18, 2016, and then
again on April 18, 2017. AT 35-73, 74-104. In a decision
dated August 7, 2017, the ALJ determined that plaintiff was
not disabled since January 1, 2015. AT
17-27. The ALJ made the following findings
(citations to 20 C.F.R. omitted):
1. The most recent favorable medical decision finding that
the claimant was disabled is the determination dated January
25, 2008. This is known as the ‘comparison point
decision’ or CPD.
2. At the time of the CPD, the claimant had the following
medically determinable impairment: rheumatoid arthritis. This
impairment was found to result in the residual functional
capacity to perform sedentary work except she is unable to
perform more than occasional standing or walking, use her
hands to handle or her upper extremities to reach or
3. Through the date of this decision, the claimant has not
engaged in substantial gainful activity.
4. The medical evidence establishes that, since January 1,
2015, the claimant has had the following medically
determinable impairments: rheumatoid arthritis; bilateral
calcaneal spurs and right Achilles tendinopathy; and
degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine and lumbar
spine. These are the claimant’s current impairments.
5. Since January 1, 2015 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.
6. Medical improvement occurred on January 1, 2015.
7. The claimant’s medical improvement is related to the
ability to work because it resulted in an increase in the
claimant’s residual functional capacity.
8. Since January 1, 2015, the claimant has continued to have
a severe impairment or combination of impairments.
9. Since January 1, 2015, based on the current impairments,
the claimant has had the residual functional capacity to
perform light work except: only occasional stooping,
kneeling, crouching, and climbing; avoid hazards such as
unprotected heights and dangerous moving machinery; must
avoid cold; and she is limited to only occasional handling
10. Since January 1, 2015, the claimant has been unable to
perform past relevant work.
11. On January 1, 2015, the claimant was a younger individual
12. The claimant has at least a high-school education and is
able to communicate in English.
13. Since January 1, 2015, 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.
14. Since January 1, 2015, considering the claimant’s
age, education, work experience, and residual functional
capacity based on the current impairments, the claimant has
been able to perform a significant number of jobs in the
15. The claimant’s disability ended on January 1, 2015,
and the claimant has not become disabled again since that
18, 2018, the Appeals Council denied plaintiff’s
request for review on the grounds that the new medical
evidence submitted by plaintiff’s counsel did not
provide a basis for changing the ALJ’s decision. AT