United States District Court, Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Christopher A. Nuechterlein United States Magistrate Judge
On September 9, 2013, Plaintiff Sharon Siegel (“Siegel”) filed her complaint in this Court. On January 15, 2014, Siegel filed her opening brief requesting that this Court reverse or remand the Commissioner’s decision under sentence four of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). On April 24, 2014, Defendant Commissioner Carolyn W. Colvin (“the Commissioner”) filed her response brief. On April 30, 2014, Siegel filed her reply brief adding a request for remand pursuant to sentence six of 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) based on new and material evidence. With the Court’s permission, the Commissioner filed a sur-reply on June 5, 2014. Siegel’s filing dated on May 19, 2014, was construed by the court as a sur-response. This court may enter a ruling in this matter based on the parties’ consent, 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
On August 9, 2010, Siegel filed her application for Title II Disability Insurance Benefits and Title XVI Supplemental Security Income pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423 alleging disability due to bipolar disorder, severe depression, and anxiety with an alleged onset date of July 29, 2010. Her claims were initially denied on September 27, 2010, and also upon reconsideration on February 23, 2011. Siegel appeared at a hearing before the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on March 16, 2012.
On May 14, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision holding that Siegel was not disabled. The ALJ found that Siegel met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2014. The ALJ also found that Siegel had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 29, 2010, but had received unemployment benefits in the third and fourth quarters of 2010 as well as first, second, and fourth quarters of 2011. The ALJ found that Siegel had the severe impairments of bipolar disorder and polysubstance abuse but that Siegel did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. The ALJ found that Siegel had the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but that she was limited to simple, routine and repetitive tasks. The ALJ then found that Siegel was capable of performing past relevant work as a marker II and store laborer. In addition, the ALJ determined that although Siegel was capable of performing past relevant work, there were also other jobs existing in the national economy that she could perform.
On July 24, 2013, the Appeals Council denied review of the ALJ’s decision making it the Commissioner’s final decision. See Fast v. Barnhart, 397 F.3d 468, 470 (7th Cir. 2005); 20 C.F.R. § 404.981. On September 9, 2013, Siegel filed a complaint in this Court seeking a review of the ALJ’s decision. Shortly thereafter on September 18, 2013, Siegel filed a second application for disability benefits. On January 13, 2014, the Commissioner issued a Notice of Award based on Siegel’s second application awarding her benefits and finding her disabled as of May 15, 2012—just one day after the ALJ issued his decision denying Siegel’s first application for disability benefits. Siegel received the Notice of Award some time after filing her opening brief in this case. Siegel notified the Court of her award in her reply brief.
Siegel was a 53 year old female at the time the ALJ denied her claims. She has a high school education and performed past relevant work as a marker II and store laborer.
1. Claimant’s Hearing Testimony
At the hearing, Siegel testified that she had trouble concentrating, trouble with memory, and difficulty motivating herself to shower more than four times a week. She also testified that she had depression and anxiety with suicidal thoughts. She took multiple medications daily to address her various symptoms. Siegel reported hand tremors that affected her writing and functions such as putting in earrings or buttoning as the only side effect from her medications.
Siegel also testified that she was able to drive but had problems at night on unfamiliar roads. She stated that she lived alone and would occasionally talk to other women in her apartment building. Siegel indicated that she shopped for groceries on her own, went to the library, and attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings regularly. She explained that she spent time with her grandchildren and watched them about once a week.
2. Mental Impairments
Siegel was hospitalized eight times between April 2010 and March 16, 2012, the date of her ALJ hearing. Siegel was hospitalized at Saint Anthony Hospital from April 5, 2010, to April 14, 2010, because of suicidal ideation after an overdose. While hospitalized, she attended therapy and continued her prescribed medications. Her mood and behavior stabilized leading to her release. A report dated April 26, 2010, noted that Siegel’s thought process, including memory and attention/concentration were “within normal limits.” Doc. No. 9 at ...