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Lewis v. Colvin

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

October 31, 2014

KENNETH E. LEWIS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

PAUL R. CHERRY Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff Kenneth E. Lewis on November 27, 2013, and a Social Security Opening Brief of Plaintiff [DE 16], filed on April 25, 2014. The Commissioner filed a response brief on August 4, 2014, and Plaintiff filed a reply on August 18, 2014. Plaintiff challenges the July 17, 2012 decision of the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) that he is not disabled under the Social Security Act.

I. Background

Plaintiff filed for supplemental security income (SSI) on September 27, 2010, alleging that he has been disabled since October 28, 2005, as a result of degenerative disc disease, bilateral osteoarthritis of the knees, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and type-two diabetes. He is morbidly obese-he stands 6' 1" tall and weighs about 320 pounds. His applications for SSI were denied initially on December 20, 2010, and upon reconsideration on February 11, 2011.

He filed a timely request for a hearing, which was held in Valparaiso, Indiana, before ALJ Henry Kramzyk on June 8, 2012. The ALJ heard testimony from Plaintiff as well as from vocational expert (VE) Lee O. Knutson. Plaintiff was represented at the hearing by attorney Matt Gruca.[1]

On July 17, 2012, the ALJ issued a written decision denying Plaintiff's claims for disability benefits, making the following findings.

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 27, 2010, the application date.
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine; obesity; and osteoarthritis of the knees.
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b), as the claimant can lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk for up to 6 hours; and sit for up to 6 hours. The claimant can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, but can occasionally climb ramps and stairs; and occasionally balance, stoop, and crouch, but never kneel or crawl.
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
6. The claimant was born in 1958 and was 52 years old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching advanced age, on the date the application was filed.
7. The claimant has a high school education and is able to communicate in English.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, since September 27, 2010, the date the application was filed.

On October 29, 2013, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, leaving the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.1481. On November 27, 2013, Plaintiff filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) for review of the Agency's decision.

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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