United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
RHONDA C. BOURNE, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
ENTRY REVIEWING THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION
JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.
Plaintiff Rhonda C. Bourne applied for disability and disability insurance benefits from the Social Security Administration ("SSA") on March 23, 2011, alleging a disability beginning August 15, 2010. [Filing No. 12-2 at 15; Filing No. 12-5 at 2.] Her claim was denied initially and on reconsideration, and a hearing was held before Administrative Law Henry Kramzyk (the "ALJ") on September 26, 2012. [Filing No. 12-2 at 34.] On October 19, 2012, the ALJ issued an opinion concluding that Ms. Bourne was not entitled to disability benefits. [Filing No. 12-2 at 26.] The Appeals Council denied her request for review on December 19, 2013, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's "final decision" subject to judicial review. [Filing No. 12-2 at 6.] Ms. Bourne 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. Bourne was forty-nine years old when she applied for disability benefits, alleging a disability onset date of August 15, 2010. [Filing No. 12-5 at 2.] She completed four years of college, [Filing No. 12-2 at 39], and detailed a lengthy work history at the hearing before the ALJ, [Filing No. 12-2 at 39-48]. She worked primarily as a Certified Nursing Assistant for various entities. [Filing No. 12-2 at 39-48.]
At the hearing, Ms. Bourne testified that she suffers from Meniere's disease, grand mal seizures, secondary seizures, deafness in her right ear, partial deafness in her left ear, right ankle pain, depression, conversion disorder, and migraines. [Filing No. 12-2 at 48-50.] She detailed the medications she was currently taking but testified that she does not suffer side effects from those medications. [Filing No. 12-2 at 50-51.] At the hearing, Ms. Bourne testified that she has an attack from Meniere's disease approximately two or three days per week, and that the only thing she can do is to sleep on those days. [Filing No. 12-2 at 60.] Ms. Bourne further testified that she gets migraines three to four times per month, that they can last multiple days, and that medication only helps sometimes. [Filing No. 12-2 at 60.] Ms. Bourne contends that the cumulative effect of her medical conditions renders her disabled and prevents her from maintaining 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 October 19, 2012, concluding that Ms. Bourne is not disabled. [Filing No. 12-2 at 15-26.] The ALJ found as follows:
At Step One of the analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. Bourne meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through March 31, 2015. [Filing No. 12-2 at 17.] The ALJ further found that Ms. Bourne had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since her alleged onset date. [Filing No. 12-2 at 17.]
At Step Two of the analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. Bourne has the following severe impairments: pseudo-seizures, a conversion disorder, and depression. [Filing No. 12-2 at 17.] The ALJ further found that Ms. Bourne has the non-severe impairments of hearing loss in her right ear, Meniere's Disease, a history of a gastric ulcer, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, right ankle pain, and osteoarthritis of her knees. [Filing No. 12-2 at 17.]
At Step Three of the analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. Bourne 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 18.]
The ALJ concluded that through the date of last insured, Ms. Bourne had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work, except that she can lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally, and 10 pounds frequently, can sit up to six hours of an eight-hour workday, and can stand and/or walk up to six hours of an eight-hour workday. [Filing No. 12-2 at 20.] Her RFC provides that Ms. Bourne can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, but never climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. [Filing No. 12-2 at 20.] The RFC also includes restrictions prohibiting Ms. Bourne from any exposure to wetness, unprotected heights, dangerous machinery, and driving. [Filing No. 12-2 at 20.] The RFC notes that Ms. Bourne is able to understand, remember, and carry out short, simple, repetitive instructions; sustain attention or concentration for two-hour periods at a time and for eighthours in a workday on short, simple, repetitive instructions; use judgment in making work decisions related to short, simple, and repetitive instructions; and that she requires an occupation with a set routine and procedures, few changes during the workday, with no fast-paced production work. [Filing No. 12-2 at 20.] The RFC states that Ms. Bourne can maintain regular attendance and be punctual within customary tolerances and that she can perform activities within a schedule. [Filing No. 12-2 at 20.]
At Step Four of the analysis, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Bourne was unable to perform any past relevant work. [Filing No. 12-2 at 24.]
At Step Five of the analysis, the ALJ concluded that considering Ms. Bourne's age, education, work experience, and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that she can perform. [Filing No. 12-2 at 25.] The ALJ specifically relied on testimony from the vocational expert ("VE") who testified at the hearing and identified unskilled jobs such as encapsulator, office helper, inspector, wire prep tender, and electronics worker. [Filing No. 12-2 at 25.]
Based on these findings, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Bourne is not disabled as defined by the Social Security Act and, thus, is not entitled to the requested ...