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Voorhees v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

January 12, 2015

DIXIE A. VOORHEES, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN E. MARTIN, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff Dixie A. Voorhees on January 23, 2014, and a Brief Plaintiffs Brief in Support of Her Motion to Reverse the Decision of the Commissioner of Social Security (sic) [DE 19], filed by Plaintiff on July 18, 2014. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On October 28, 2014, the Commissioner filed a response, and on November 18, 2014, Plaintiff filed a reply. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On September 30, 2010, Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") with the U.S. Social Security Administration ("SSA") alleging that she became disabled on March 11, 2008. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On June 11, 2012, Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Jonathan Stanley held a hearing at which Plaintiff, with an attorney, and a vocational expert ("VE") testified. On June 19, 2012, 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 last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on June 30, 2011.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of March 11, 2008, through her date last insured of June 30, 2011. (20 CFR 404.71 et seq. ).
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had severe impairments: obesity; mild degenerative disc disease of the cervical and lumbar spine ("DDD"), and fibromyalgia (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equalled any of the listed impairments in 20 CFR 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: the claimant is limited to no more than occasional climbing of stairs and ramps, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching, or crawling, and no climbing of ropes, ladders, or scaffolds.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was able to perform past relevant work as a filler remanufacturing toner. (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from March 11, 2008, through June 30, 2011, the date last insured (20 CFR 404.1520(f)).

On July 18, 2013, 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).

FACTS

Plaintiff was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), major depressive disorder, and mild degenerative disc disease of the cervical and lumbar spine.

Plaintiff was seen by her physician, Dr. Hough, about every three months from 2009 on. He treated her for fibromyalgia, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, back pain, and severe depression. On June 14, 2011, he completed a Medical Source Statement, identifying limitations on Plaintiff's work-related activities. The form indicated that Plaintiff could only rarely lift ten pounds, twist, stoop, crouch, or climb stairs, and had limitations with reaching, handling, or fingering. Dr. Hough noted that Plaintiff would be off task about 25% of the day and could only tolerate low stress work, and would have to miss more than four days per month because of her impairments or treatment. He opined that Plaintiff would be limited to sitting for less ...


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