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Plant v. Colvin

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

April 28, 2015

TUWANNA L. PLANT, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

PAUL R. CHERRY, MAGISTRATE JUDGE

This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff Tuwanna L. Plant on December 27, 2013, and an Opening Brief [DE 27], filed on November 17, 2014. Plaintiff requests that the May 24, 2012 decision of the Administrative Law Judge denying her claim for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On February 23, 2015, the Commissioner filed a response, and Plaintiff filed a reply on March 13, 2015. For the following reasons, the Court denies Plaintiff’s request for remand.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income on September 3, 2010, and her amended alleged onset date is January 1, 2011. Her claim was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Plaintiff timely requested a hearing, which was held on May 15, 2012. In attendance were Plaintiff, her attorney, medical expert Walter J. Miller, M.D. (by telephone), and an impartial vocational expert. On May 24, 2012, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Dennis Kramer, issued a written decision denying benefits, making the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2015.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 1, 2011, the amended alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: sarcoidosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, and obesity.
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to lift and/or carry, and push and/or pull 20 pounds occasionally, and 10 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk at least 2 hours in an 8 hour work day; and sit about 6 hours in an 8 hour workday. A hand held assistive device is required for ambulation. The claimant can walk at all times, but not stand; and can lift and carry with the non-cane bearing arm. The claimant can never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; but can occasionally climb ramps or stairs, balance, kneel, stoop, crouch or crawl. The claimant must avoid slippery, uneven or moving surfaces; concentrated exposure to hazardous machinery and heights; and concentrated exposure to fumes, dusts, and gases.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was born [in 1975] and was 34 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 material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills.
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, as defined in the Social Security Act, from August 14, 2010, through the date of this decision.

(AR 29-37).

The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff’s request for review, leaving the ALJ’s decision the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981, 416.1481. Plaintiff filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) for review of the Agency’s decision.

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 this case ...


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