United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
JACQUELINE D. WHITE, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
ENTRY REVIEWING THE
JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.
Plaintiff Jacqueline D. White applied for disability insurance benefits from the Social Security Administration ("SSA") on July 20, 2011, alleging disability beginning June 20, 2008. [Filing No. 12-5 at 2.] Her claim was denied initially and on reconsideration, and a hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge T. Whitaker (the "ALJ") on December 17, 2012. [Filing No. 12-2 at 44-76.] On February 19, 2013, the ALJ issued an opinion concluding that Ms. White was not entitled to disability benefits. [Filing No. 12-2 at 27-39.] The Appeals Council denied her request for review on March 19, 2014, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's "final decision" subject to judicial review. [Filing No. 12-2 at 2-4.] Ms. White filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), asking this Court to review her denial of benefits. [Filing No. 1.]
Ms. White was almost forty-six years old when she applied for disability benefits, alleging an onset date of June 20, 2008. [Filing No. 12-5 at 2.] Ms. White last worked in June 2008 for a temporary agency that contracted with public schools. [Filing No. 12-2 at 50.] In that capacity, she typically performed secretarial, office, and library assistant duties. [Filing No. 12-2 at 50.]
At the hearing, Ms. White alleged that she suffers from bilateral knee pain following replacement surgeries in May and June 2009, uncontrolled hypertension, and obstructive sleep apnea. [Filing No. 12-2 at 48.] She asserted that the resulting pain interferes with her ability to sleep, leading to significant fatigue that results in her inability to maintain full-time work. [Filing No. 12-2 at 48.]
Using the five-step sequential evaluation set forth by the SSA in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4), the ALJ issued an opinion on February 19, 2013, concluding that Ms. White is not disabled. [Filing No. 12-2 at 27-39.] The ALJ found as follows:
At Step One of the analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. White last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on December 31, 2012. [Filing No. 12-2 at 29.] She further found that Ms. White had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her application date. [Filing No. 12-2 at 29.]
At Step Two of the analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. White had the following severe impairments: obesity; osteoarthritis of the bilateral knees status post bilateral knee repair; history of bilateral pes anscrinus or bursitis; sleep apnea; hypertension; and history of chest pain. [Filing No. 12-2 at 29.]
At Step Three of the analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. White did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments. [Filing No. 12-2 at 31.]
The ALJ concluded that through the date of last insured, Ms. White had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to lift/carry 20 pounds occasionally and 20 pounds frequently; stand and walk for 20 minutes each at one time, for a combined total of 2 hours per 8-hour day; and sit for 1 hour at a time, for a total of 6 hours per 8-hour day. [Filing No. 12-2 at 32.] As part of the RFC, the ALJ limited Ms. White to work that allows her to sit or stand alternatively and precluded her from operating foot controls; crouching; kneeling; crawling; or climbing ladders, ropes, stairs, or scaffolds. [Filing No. 12-2 at 32.] The ALJ also limited Ms. White to work where she would only have to occasionally balance, climb ramps, and stoop, but never repeatedly below the waist. [Filing No. 12-2 at 32.] Ms. White's work must not expose her to vibrations, unprotected heights, dangerous moving machinery, or slippery uneven walking surfaces. [Filing No. 12-2 at 32.] The ALJ also limited Ms. White to simple, routine, and repetitive tasks in a work-environment free from fast-paced production requirements. [Filing No. 12-2 at 32.]
At Step Four of the analysis, the ALJ concluded that Ms. White was unable to perform any past relevant work. [Filing No. 12-2 at 38.]
At Step Five of the analysis, the ALJ concluded that considering Ms. White's age, education, work experience, and RFC, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that she could perform. [Filing No. 12-2 at 38.] The ALJ specifically identified sedentary jobs such as order clerk, charge account clerk, final assembler, and system surveillance monitor. [Filing No. 12-2 at 39.]
Based on these findings, the ALJ concluded that Ms. White was not disabled and, thus, not entitled to the requested disability benefits. [Filing No. 12-2 at 39.]
Ms. White requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's decision, but that request was denied on March 19, 2014, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's "final decision" subject to judicial review. [Filing No. 12-2 at ...