United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
VALERIE D. GILLEY, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
ENTRY REVIEWING THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION
JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.
Plaintiff Valerie Gilley applied for disability, disability insurance benefits, and supplemental security income from the Social Security Administration ("SSA") on November 2, 2010, alleging a disability onset date of November 15, 2007. Her applications were denied on January 4, 2011, and denied again after reconsideration on April 4, 2011. A hearing was held on June 11, 2012 in front of Administrative Law Judge Kimberly S. Cromer (the "ALJ"), who determined that Ms. Gilley was not entitled to receive benefits. [Filing No. 13-2 at 15-28.] The Appeals Council denied review, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's "final decision" subject to judicial review. Ms. Gilley has filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), asking the Court to review her denial of benefits. [Filing No. 1.]
Ms. Gilley was forty-six years old as of her alleged onset date. [Filing No. 13-5 at 2.] Previously, she had worked at a nursing home in food service and then as a Certified Nursing Assistant. [Filing No. 13-2 at 39-40.] Ms. Gilley claims she has been disabled since November 15, 2007, because of a variety of physical and mental impairments that will be discussed as necessary below. [Filing No. 17-5 at 2.]
Using the five-step sequential evaluation set forth by the SSA in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520, the ALJ issued an opinion on July 3, 2012. [Filing No. 13-2 at 15-28.] The ALJ found as follows:
At Step One of the analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. Gilley had not engaged in substantial gainful activity after the alleged disability onset date. [Filing No. 13-2 at 17.]
At Step Two, the ALJ found that Ms. Gilley suffered from the severe impairments of degenerative disc disease, fibromyalgia, bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, sleep apnea, and obesity. [Filing No. 13-2 at 17-19.]
At Step Three, the ALJ found that Ms. Gilley did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed impairments. [Filing No. 13-2 at 19-20.] The ALJ concluded that Ms. Gilley had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work, except she "could lift up to 20 pounds occasionally and frequently lift and/or carry up to 10 pounds. She can stand and/or walk up to six hours in an eight-hour workday and sit up to six hours in an eight-hour workday. [She] can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, or climb ramps or stairs but never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She should avoid concentrated exposure to wetness or hazards such [as] moving machinery or work at unprotected heights." [Filing No. 13-2 at 20-26.]
At Step Four, the ALJ found that Ms. Gilley was not able to perform her past relevant work as a nurse's aide and dietary aide because that work is categorized as medium to very heavy in exertional demand. [Filing No. 13-2 at 26.]
At Step Five, the ALJ found that considering Ms. Gilley's age, education, work experience, and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that she can perform. Specifically, the ALJ found Ms. Gilley would be capable of working as an office helper, hand packager, or counter clerk. [Filing No. 13-2 at 27.]
Based on these findings, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Gilley was not disabled and was not entitled to disability benefits or supplemental security income. [Filing No. 13-2 at 28.] Ms. Gilley requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's decision, but the Council denied that request on December 17, 2013. [Filing No. 13-2 at 2-4.] That decision is the final decision of the Commissioner for purposes of judicial review, and Ms. Gilley subsequently sought relief from this Court. [Filing No. 1.]
STANDARD OF ...