United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
PAUL R. CHERRY, District Judge.
This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff Sandra Elaine Cantu on February 13, 2014, and a Social Security Opening Brief of Plaintiff [DE 13], filed on June 20, 2014. This matter became fully briefed on October 10, 2014. Plaintiff challenges the Social Security Administration's determination that she is not disabled under the Social Security Act.
On February 23, 2011, Plaintiff filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act, alleging that she'd been disabled since March 15, 2009. Her claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration. She then sought a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). A hearing took place on August 9, 2012. On August 31, 2012, the ALJ issued a written decision denying Plaintiff's claims for disability benefits, making the following findings.
1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on December 31, 2010.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of March 15, 2009, through her date last insured of December 31, 2010.
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, allergies/asthma, hypertension, and depression.
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled 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, through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to lift/carry 10 pounds occasionally, less than 10 pounds frequently; stand/walk 2 hours total, 15 minutes continuously; sit 6 hours, 1 hour continuously; can remain at the workstation and on task despite positional changes; never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; occasionally climb ramps/stairs; balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; avoid concentrated exposure to fumes, odors, dusts, and gases; avoid all exposure to workplace hazards such as dangerous moving machinery and unprotected heights; avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold and heat; she can understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions and work-like procedures; concentrate long enough to complete simple tasks in a timely manner; and sustain a flexible or goal-oriented pace.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was born in 1962 and was 48 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 45-49, on the date last insured.
8. The claimant has at least a high school 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. Through the date last insured, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant could have performed.
11. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from March 15, 2009, the alleged onset date, through December 31, 2010, the date last insured.
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. §§ 404.981, 416.1481. On February 13, 2014, 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 ...