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Razor v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 26, 2015

MYRA L. RAZOR, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

ENTRY REVIEWING THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION

JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.

Plaintiff Myra L. Razor applied for Social Security Disability benefits ("SSD") and Supplemental Security Income benefits ("SSI") on November 14, 2011, alleging a disability onset date of June 30, 2010. [Filing No. 8-2 at 21; Filing No. 8-5 at 2-14.] Her claim was denied initially and on reconsideration, and a hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Christine Coughlin (the "ALJ") on April 18, 2013. [Filing No. 8-2 at 51.] On May 28, 2013, the ALJ issued an opinion concluding that Ms. Razor was not under a disability as defined by the Social Security Act. [Filing No. 8-2 at 32.] The Appeals Council denied her request for review on June 5, 2014, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's "final decision" subject to judicial review. [Filing No. 8-2 at 2-5.] Ms. Razor filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), asking this Court to review her denial of benefits. [Filing No. 1.]

I.

BACKGROUND

Ms. Razor was forty-eight years old at the time she applied for disability benefits, alleging a disability onset date of June 30, 2010. [Filing No. 8-5 at 2.] She has a high school education, [Filing No. 8-2 at 61], and detailed her work history at the hearing before the ALJ, [Filing No. 8-2 at 61-67]. Ms. Razor has previously worked as a deli clerk, a presser at a dry cleaners, an assistant deli bakery manager, a bread baker, and a waitress. [Filing No. 8-2 at 61-67.]

At the hearing, Ms. Razor testified that she stopped working after she broke her ankle, which required surgery. [Filing No. 8-2 at 62.] She testified that she later filed her disability claim because her "condition became much worse" and she "started suffering anxiety attacks." [Filing No. 8-2 at 67.] Ms. Razor testified that she rarely leaves the house because of her anxiety and inability to walk long distances. [Filing No. 8-2 at 71.] She testified regarding back pain from which she suffers, her difficulty dealing with members of the public, and her difficulty with concentration and focus. [Filing No. 8-2 at 85-92.] Ms. Razor testified that despite her medication, she has panic attacks at least three or four times per week and that on average each lasts three to four hours. [Filing No. 8-2 at 89.]

Using the five-step sequential evaluation set forth by the Social Security Administration in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4), the ALJ issued an opinion on May 28, 2013, concluding that Ms. Razor is not disabled. [Filing No. 8-2 at 21-33.] The ALJ found as follows:

• At Step One of the analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. Razor meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2015. [Filing No. 8-2 at 23.] The ALJ further found that Ms. Razor had not engaged in substantial gainful activity[1] since her alleged onset date. [Filing No. 8-2 at 23.]
• At Step Two of the analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. Razor has the following severe impairments: obesity; chronic pain secondary to spinal stenosis of the lumbar region; hypothyroidism; status post internal fixation of the medial and lateral malleolus (ankle); obstructive sleep apnea; major depressive disorder; and generalized anxiety disorder. [Filing No. 8-2 at 23.]
• At Step Three of the analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. Razor did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments. [Filing No. 8-2 at 24-25.] The ALJ did conclude that Ms. Razor had mild restrictions in activities of daily living; moderate difficulties with social functioning; and moderate difficulties with regard to concentration, persistence, or pace. [Filing No. 8-2 at 24-25.]
• The ALJ concluded that through the date of last insured, Ms. Razor had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work with the ability to lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally, 10 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk up to 6 hours in an 8 hour workday; sit up to 6 hours in an 8 hour workday; occasionally climb ramps and stairs but never ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl; occasionally push/pull with the bilateral lower extremities; occasionally interact with supervisors, co-workers, and the general public; and perform simple and routine tasks. [Filing No. 8-2 at 25-26.] Ms. Razor's RFC also had a limitation for avoiding concentrated exposure to extreme cold and heat, humidity, fumes, odors, dusts, gases, and poor ventilation. [Filing No. 8-2 at 26.] It also precluded her from work around wet or slippery surfaces. [Filing No. 8-2 at 26.]
• At Step Four of the analysis, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Razor was unable to perform any past relevant work. [Filing No. 8-2 at 31.]
• At Step Five of the analysis, the ALJ concluded that considering Ms. Razor'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. 8-2 at 31.] The ALJ relied on testimony from the vocational expert ("VE") and identified jobs that Ms. Razor could perform, such as a clerk, merchandise marker, or packager. [Filing No. 8-2 at 32.]
• Based on these findings, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Razor is not disabled as defined by the Social Security Act and, thus, is not entitled to the requested ...

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