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Ragas v. Colvin

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

July 1, 2015

PATTY A. RAGAS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Defendant.

REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

DENISE K. LaRUE, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff Patty A. Ragas ("Ragas") requests judicial review of the decision of Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the "Commissioner"), denying Ragas' applications for disability insurance benefits ("DIB") and supplemental security income ("SSI"). The Honorable Tanya W. Pratt, District Judge, designated this Magistrate Judge, under Fed.R.Civ.P. 72 and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1), to issue a report and recommendation on the request. [Dkt. 25.] For the reasons set forth below, the undersigned recommends the Commissioner's decision be AFFIRMED.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Procedural History

Ragas filed applications for DIB and SSI on January 2, 2013, alleging an onset of disability of January 1, 2011. [Dkt. 12-2 at 17.] Ragas' applications were denied initially on February 7, 2013, and upon reconsideration on May 31, 2013. Id. Ragas requested a hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge Albert J. Velasquez ("ALJ") on November 18, 2013. The ALJ found Ragas was not disabled in a decision dated December 3, 2013. Id. at 15. The Appeals Council denied Ragas' request for review of the ALJ's decision on May 15, 2014, making the ALJ's decision final for purposes of judicial review. [Dkt. 12-2 at 2.] Ragas filed her Complaint with this Court on July 15, 2014. [Dkt. 1.]

B. Factual Background and Medical History

Ragas was born on November 22, 1968, and was 44 years old at the time of the hearing. She has an associate's degree and consistently worked until July 2010. Ragas has held several legal assistant positions for both law firms and government agencies. She resigned from her position as a legal assistant for the Department of Defense in July 2010. At the hearing in November 2013, Ragas testified that she returned to work in July and had been working full-time as a temporary legal assistant for the Madison County Department of Child Services. The employment had not disqualified her from benefits as she had not yet worked six months. Ragas expressed concern at the hearing that she was going to lose her current job because she was missing too much work due to sickness and anxiety.

The ALJ found Ragas suffers from the severe impairments of diabetes mellitus - type 2 with associated neuropathy; hypothyroidism; obstructive sleep apnea; osteoarthritis in the knees; fecal and urinary incontinence by history; a recent episode of pituitary hemorrhage; and depression and social phobia. As Ragas and the ALJ thoroughly summarized the medical records, the Court will only cite to the portions relevant to the issues on which Ragas requests review.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Standard for Proving Disability

To be eligible for SSI and DIB, a claimant must show he is unable to "engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). To evaluate a disability claim, an ALJ must use the following five-step inquiry:

Step One: Is the claimant currently employed;
Step Two: Does the claimant have a severe impairment or combination of impairments;
Step Three: Does the claimant's impairment meet or equal any impairment listed in the regulations as being so severe as to ...

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