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Dixon v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

March 7, 2014

TARA S. DIXON, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


PAUL J. CHERRY, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff Tara Dixon on November 9, 2012, and Plaintiff's Social Security Opening Brief [DE 15], filed on April 12, 2013. This case became fully briefed on July 30, 2013. Plaintiff requests that the May 26, 2011 decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that she is not disabled under the Social Security Act be reversed or remanded.

I. Procedural Background

Plaintiff filed a claim for disability and disability insurance benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act on March 16, 2010. She filed a claim for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act on August 5, 2010. Though both claims allege a disability onset date of December 5, 2006, Plaintiff later changed the onset date to January 22, 2009, the day she was diagnosed with proliferative diabetic retinopathy.

Her claims were denied initially and again on review. She then sought a hearing, which was held before ALJ Edward P. Studzinski on April 4, 2011. The ALJ issued his decision denying benefits on May 26, 2011, making the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2011.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 22, 2009, the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et. seq., and 416.971 et. seq. ).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: carpal tunnel syndrome, degenerative disc disease and diabetes mellitus with neuropathy (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).[1]
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, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.976(a) as the claimant is able to lift and/or carry 10 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently, stand and/or walk for two hours out of an eight hour [sic] work day and sit for six hours out of an eight hour [sic] work day, except: the claimant is limited to sitting for one hour at a time before needing to stand to stretch for two to three minutes; is not able to push/pull objects such as doors or shopping cars; is able to perform fine and gross manipulation frequently but not continuously or forcefully; and has limited ability to feel small objects.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CRF 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on February 19, 1971 [sic] and was 37 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, 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 for 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 January 22, 2009, through the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(g) and 416.920(g)).

Plaintiff timely sought review with the Appeals Council on July 20, 2011, which declined to review the ALJ's decision on September 19, 2012. The ALJ's decision is thus final. 20 C.F.R. ยงยง 404.955 and 404.981. Plaintiff then sought Judicial Review on November 9, 2012. The Administrative Record was filed on February 22, 2013.

The parties filed forms of consent to have this case assigned to a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further proceedings and to order the entry of a final judgment in this case. Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction to decide ...

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