United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
JOHN C. PETREIKIS, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
PAUL R. CHERRY, Magistrate Judge.
This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff John C. Petreikis on August 28, 2013, and a Social Security Opening Brief of Plaintiff [DE 22], filed on March 7, 2014. The Commissioner filed a response on May 29, 2014, and Plaintiff filed a reply on June 23, 2014. Plaintiff challenges the Social Security Administration's determination that he is not disabled under the Social Security Act.
Plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) with the Social Security Administration on November 19, 2012, alleging that he had been disabled since May 12, 2010, because of neck and spine injuries as well as depression and problems remembering and concentrating. His application was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
He then filed a request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which took place on April 23, 2012, in Valparaiso, Indiana, before ALJ Edward P. Studzinski. The ALJ heard testimony from Plaintiff as well as from vocational expert (VE) Dr. Leonard Fisher. Plaintiff appeared for the hearing by video-conference and was represented by attorney Barbara Rodecki.
On July 18, 2012, the ALJ issued a written decision denying Plaintiff's claims for disability benefits, making the following findings.
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2014.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 12, 2010, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the cervical and lumbar spine.
4. 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.
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 416.967(a) except the claimant requires the option to alternate between sitting and standing; after sitting for 60 minutes the claimant must be allowed to stand for 5 minutes before sitting for another 60 minutes. The claimant would not need to abandon the workstation or lose concentration on work tasks while alternating positions. In addition, the claimant must never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds but can occasionally climb ramps, or stairs. The claimant can occasionally balance, kneel, stoop, crouch or crawl. The claimant can perform no more than occasional bilateral overhead reaching. The claimant requires jobs that allow use of a cane for walking on uneven terrain or for prolonged periods of ambulation. The claimant must avoid concentrated exposure to wetness or humidity that would result in slippery surfaces. The claimant is to have no exposure to hazardous environments such as unprotected heights, exposed flames, or unguarded large bodies of water, and no concentrated exposure to unguarded hazardous machinery. The claimant is to do no driving or operating moving machinery as part of his job tasks. In addition, the claimant is limited to simple routine repetitive tasks.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was born in 1970 and was 40 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the alleged disability onset date.
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English.
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.
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.
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from May 12, 2010, ...