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Howard v. Colvin

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

March 18, 2015

OTIS E. HOWARD, 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 Plaintiff Otis E. Howard on October 17, 2013, and a Social Security Opening Brief of Plaintiff [DE 19], filed by Plaintiff on April 24, 2014. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On August 11, 2014, the Commissioner filed a response, and on August 26, 2014, Plaintiff filed a reply. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On July 8, 2011, Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and for supplemental security income ("SSI") with the U.S. Social Security Administration ("SSA") alleging that he became disabled on July 7, 2010. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On January 22, 2013, Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") Edward P. Studzinski held a hearing at which Plaintiff, with an attorney, and a vocational expert ("VE") testified. On March 22, 2013, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled.

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

1. The claimant met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through March 31, 2012.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since March 9, 2011, the application date. (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq. and 20 CFR 416.971 et seq. ).
3. Since the alleged onset date, the claimant had severe impairments: borderline intellectual functioning (BIF); diabetes mellitus; obesity and degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 20 CFR 416.920(c)).
4. Since the alleged onset date, the claimant has not had an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals any of the listed impairments in 20 CFR 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 20 CFR 404.1525, 20 CFR 404.1526, 20 CFR 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. Prior to November 1, 2012, the date on which the claimant because disabled, he had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), as he could lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently, and had no limitations in his ability to sit, stand, and/or walk. The claimant could assume any one position for no more than 60 minutes before needing to alternate positions for 5 minutes at a time. The claimant could only occasionally operate foot controls. The claimant could never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds and could occasionally climb ramps and stairs, as well as balance, stoop, crouch, kneel, and crawl. The claimant could frequently, but not constantly, use his hands for fine or gross manipulation, and could not use his hands for forceful, repetitive grasping or torqueing maneuvers. The claimant could not work around unprotected heights, large bodies of water, unexposed flames, or hazardous unguarded machinery. The claimant could not drive. The claimant was limited to simple, routine and repetitive tasks, simple decision-making, occasional and minor changes in the work setting, and tasks requiring no more than the exercise of simple judgment.
6. Beginning on November 1, 2012, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 20 CFR 416.967(a).
7. Since July 7, 2010, the claimant has been unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 20 CFR 416.965).
8. Prior to the established disability onset date, the claimant was an individual closely approaching advanced age (20 CFR 404.1563 and 20 CFR 416.963).
9. The claimant has limited education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 20 CFR 416.964).
10. Prior to November 1, 2012, transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because the claimant was "not disabled" whether or not he had transferable job skills. Beginning on November 1, 2012, the claimant has not been able to transfer job skills to other occupations (SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Supbart P, Appendix 2).
11. Prior to November 1, 2012, 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 ...

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