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Sheffield v. Colvin

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

May 28, 2015

TYNISHA T.A. SHEFFIELD, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN COLVIN, as Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

ENTRY REVIEWING THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION

JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, District Judge.

Tynisha T.A. Sheffield applied for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income benefits from the Social Security Administration ("SSA") on September 23, 2011, alleging a disability onset date of June 1, 2011. [Filing No. 12-5 at 2; Filing No. 12-5 at 9.] Her application was denied initially and on rehearing, and a hearing was then held before Administrative Law Judge Christopher Inama (the "ALJ") on February 20, 2013. [Filing No. 12-2 at 29-57.] On March 8, 2013, the ALJ issued an opinion concluding that Ms. Sheffield was not entitled to disability benefits. [Filing No. 12-2 at 10-24.] The Appeals Council denied review on February 25, 2014, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's "final decision" subject to judicial review. [Filing No. 12-2 at 2.] Ms. Sheffield filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), asking the Court to review her denial of benefits. [Filing No. 1.]

I.

BACKGROUND

Ms. Sheffield was thirty-one years old when she applied for disability benefits, alleging an onset date of June 1, 2011. [Filing No. 12-5 at 2; Filing No. 12-5 at 9.] She has seven children, who have at times been temporarily removed from her care and placed in foster care. [Filing No. 12-7 at 97.] Ms. Sheffield last worked in approximately 2012 at a McDonald's, where she was a cashier and trained the crew. [Filing No. 12-2 at 34.] She alleges that she suffers from various physical and mental impairments that affect her ability to work, but her appeal from the ALJ's decision focuses on his alleged failure to account for her mental impairments.[1]

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 March 8, 2013, concluding that Ms. Sheffield is not disabled as defined by the Social Security Act. [Filing No. 12-2 at 24.] The ALJ found as follows:

• At Step One of the analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. Sheffield had not engaged in substantial gainful activity[2] since the alleged onset date. [Filing No. 12-2 at 15.]
• At Step Two of the analysis, the ALJ found Ms. Sheffield to have the following severe impairments: discogenic change, isolated to L5-S1 level, and mild-tomoderate bilateral facet change at L4-5 and L5-S1; depressive disorder, not otherwise specified (NOS); and general anxiety disorder. [Filing No. 12-2 at 15.]
• At Step Three of the analysis, the ALJ found that Ms. Sheffield 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 16.] The ALJ specifically considered Listings 12.04 and 12.06. [Filing No. 12-2 at 16-17.]
• The ALJ concluded that Ms. Sheffield had the residual functional capacity ("RFC") to perform light work, except she can only occasionally climb ramps and stairs, never climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds, and occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl; that she is limited to work involving simple, routine, repetitive tasks, with only simple work-related decisions and few workplace changes, with occasional interaction with supervisors and coworkers and occasional public contact. [Filing No. 12-2 at 18.]
• At Step Four of the analysis, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Sheffield is unable to perform any past relevant work. [Filing No. 12-2 at 22.]
• At Step Five of the analysis, the ALJ concluded that considering Ms. Sheffield's age, education, work experience, and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that she can perform, such as hand packager, small products assembler, and production assembler. [Filing No. 12-2 at 23-24.]
• Based on these findings, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Sheffield is not disabled. [Filing No. 12-2 at 24.]

Ms. Sheffield requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's decision, but it denied that request on February 25, 2014. [Filing No. 12-2 at 2.] That decision is the final decision of the Commissioner for purposes of judicial review, ...


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