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Bowles v. Colvin

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

March 11, 2015

CYNTHIA D. BOWLES, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN E. MARTIN, Magistrate Judge.

This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Cynthia D. Bowles on August 5, 2013, and Plaintiff's Opening Brief [DE 23], filed by Plaintiff on July 7, 2014. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On October 14, 2014, the Commissioner filed a response, and on November 17, 2014, Plaintiff filed a reply. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On June 14, 2005, Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and an application for Supplemental Security Income ("SSI") with the U.S. Social Security Administration ("SSA") alleging that she became disabled on March 15, 2005. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. In March 2008, after appearing at a hearing, Plaintiff received an unfavorable decision, which the Appeals Council remanded. In August 2009, after appearing at a second hearing, Plaintiff received an unfavorable decision, which the Appeals Counsel also remanded in order to redevelop the evidentiary record and conduct a new hearing because the record and evidence could not be located. On August 1, 2012, Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Edward P. Studzinski held a hearing at which Plaintiff, with an attorney, and a Vocational Expert ("VE") testified. On August 17, 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 April 5, 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 June 30, 2010.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 15, 2005, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: neurofibromatosis, asthma, thoracic degenerative disc disease, and the late affects of bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome.
4. The claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work except the claimant can stand, walk, and sit for up to 6 hours in an 8-hour work period, but only if she is not required to assume any one position for more than 5 minutes, she would then require the option to alternate to another position for at least 5 minutes before resuming the prior position. The claimant is further limited to occasional lifting up to 10 pounds maximum. The claimant can occasionally climb rams and stairs, but never ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, and she can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and/or crawl. The claimant is limited to occasional overhead reaching with the right upper extremity; she can perform frequent bilateral gross manipulations, but the work cannot require forceful torquing, grasping, or repetitive actions, nor can she use vibratory tools. The claimant does not have any fine finger manipulative limitations, but the work must allow the use of bilateral hand cock-up splits. The claimant must avoid concentrated exposure to extreme temperatures (cold/heat) and pulmonary irritants (dusts, orders, gases, fumes, etc.). The claimant requires the use of hearing aids at time; therefore the claimant cannot perform jobs that require fine hearing capabilities, or communication in excessively noisy environments. Lastly, due to the claimant's medication regimen, she must avoid all dangerous machinery, unprotected heights, exposed flames, and unprotected bodies of water. The claimant cannot perform work were driving is a requiring of the job and she is limited to simple routine tasks.
6. The claimant has no past relevant work.
7. The claimant was born on July 21, 1968, and was 36 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date.
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English.
9. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the claimant does not have past relevant work.
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 from March 15, 2005 to August 17, 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 ...


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