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Wenzel v. Colvin

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

February 27, 2015

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.


JOHN E. MARTIN, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Lynnette M. Wenzel on November 25, 2013, and Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Her Motion to Reverse the Decision of the Commissioner of Social Security [DE 18], filed by Plaintiff May 6, 2014. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On August 16, 2014, the Commissioner filed a response, and on August 29, 2014, Plaintiff filed a reply. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.


On November 29, 2010, Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") with the U.S. Social Security Administration ("SSA") alleging that she became disabled on July 1, 2009. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On October 3, 2012, Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Angelita Hamilton held a hearing at which Plaintiff, with an attorney, and a vocational expert ("VE") testified. On October 29, 2012, the ALJ issued a decision finding Plaintiff was not disabled. The ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final decision when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on October 1, 2013. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.981. Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), Plaintiff initiated this civil action for judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision.

The ALJ made the following findings under the required five-step analysis:

1. The claimant met the insured status requirements through December 31, 2012.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 1, 2009, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: fibromyalgia; carpel tunnel syndrome of the right wrist; degenerative disc disease; nerve damage; cervical spondylosis; lumbar spondylosis; diverticulitis; and repetitive use syndrome.
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.
5. The claimant has the residual functional capacity to lift and carry 10 pounds occasionally; stand/walk for 2 hours in an 8-hour workday; and sit for up to 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. She can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, but can occasionally climb ramps and stairs and occasionally balance, stoop, crouch, and crawl. She can never kneel. She can occasionally rotate her neck and occasionally bilaterally reach sideways, forward and overhead. She can only have occasional exposure to extreme temperatures, wetness and humidity. She must avoid driving and can never be exposed to hazards such as raw chemicals and solutions, moving machinery, and unprotected heights.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was born on April 22, 1963, and was 46 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 45-49, on the alleged disability date.
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English.
9. Transferability of jobs skills is not an issue in this case because the claimant's past relevant work is unskilled.
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 July 1, 2009 through October 29, 2012.

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).


Plaintiff was 46 years old at the alleged on-set of disability, and 49 years six months when the ALJ's decision was issued. Plaintiff suffers from fibromyalgia, carpel tunnel syndrome, degenerative disc disease, nerve damage, cervical spondylosis, lumbar spondylosis, diverticulitis, and repetitive use syndrome. In 2009, Plaintiff was treated by Dr. Mark DeHaan for her carpel tunnel syndrome, which included surgery on her right wrist. In 2012, Plaintiff started treatment with Dr. Aleksander Skarzynski. Dr. Skarzynski opined that Plaintiff's fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, and carpel tunnel syndrome created multiple restrictions on Plaintiff's ability to work.

At the hearing, the VE testified at the hearing that a hypothetical individual with the adopted RFC could perform the jobs of surveillance system monitor, telephone information clerk/receptionist or gate guard. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles ("DOT") listed telephone clerk as semi-skilled. In addition, the DOT listed the gate guard as both semi-skilled and light in exertion. ...

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