United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
JOHN E. MARTINEZ, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff Tawanda Carprue on July 25, 2012, and a Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Reversal of Commissioner's Final Decision [DE 18] filed by Plaintiff on January 10, 2013. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On April 18, 2013, the Commissioner filed a response, and on April 25, 2013, Plaintiff filed a reply. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.
On October 16, 2008, Plaintiff filed an application for supplemental security income ("SSI") with the U.S. Social Security Administration ("SSA") alleging that she became disabled on December 31, 2007. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On January 11, 2011, Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Patrick J. Rhoa held a hearing at which Plaintiff, with an attorney, and a vocational expert ("VE") testified. On January 25, 2010, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled.
The ALJ made the following findings under the required five-step analysis:
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the application date of October 16, 2008. (20 CFR 416.971 et seq. ).
2. The claimant had severe impairments: diabetes, asthma, arthritis, hypertension, sleep apnea, obesity, chronic pain syndrome, and depression (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals any of the listed impairments in 20 CFR 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
4. The claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work, except the claimant is not able to work around dangerous machinery, pulmonary irritants such as fumes, dust, odors, gasses and poorly ventilated areas or extreme heat or cold. The claimant is unable to use ladders, ropes or scaffolds or work around unprotected heights, and can use stairs occasionally. The claimant is limited to simple routine tasks due to moderate limitations in her concentration, persistence and pace.
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 416.965).
7. The claimant was 35 years old, defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.963).
8. The claimant has limited education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
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 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 could perform (20 CFR 416.969 and 416.969(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since October 16, 2008, the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)).
On May 21, 2012, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, leaving the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
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 this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Plaintiff was 35 years old on the date her application was filed. She had not completed high school. She had past work as a babysitter, cashier, computer scanner, and hair stylist.
B. Medical and Mental Health Evidence
Plaintiff was diagnosed with diabetes, asthma, arthritis, hypertension, sleep apnea, obesity, chronic pain syndrome, and depression.
Plaintiff frequently visited her doctors's office where she was seen by her physician, Dr. Adolphus Anekwe, or nurse practitioner Tonya Harvey, for a variety of physical and mental health concerns. On May 7, 2010, Ms. Harvey completed a form certifying that Plaintiff's mobility was permanently disabled. On January 6, 2011, Ms. Harvey completed a Medical Source Statement identifying limitations on Plaintiff's work-related activities and stating that the limitations had been present since November 14, 2006. The form completed by Ms. Harvey indicated that Plaintiff could occasionally lift and carry up to twenty pounds, could sit for thirty minutes, stand for fifteen minutes, and walk for ten minutes without interruptions, and, in an eight hour workday, could sit for a total of four hours, stand for a total of two hours, and walk for a total of two hours. She could occasionally operate foot controls, stoop and kneel, but could never climb ladders or scaffolds. She could occasionally push or pull with her right hand, but never with her left. She could occasionally climb stairs and ramps or balance. She could never be exposed to unprotected heights, moving mechanical parts, dust, odors, and pulmonary irritants, or extreme temperatures, and was limited to moderate noise.
On March 16, 2009, August 14, 2009, and March 15, 2010, Dr. Anekwe filled out forms indicating that Plaintiff was totally disabled from gainful employment because of her impairments, including COPD, asthma, chronic pain syndrome, non-insulin dependent ...