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Hayes-Jackson v. Colvin

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

September 29, 2016

CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.



         This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff on August 25, 2015, and on Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Her Motion to Reverse the Decision of the Commissioner of Social Security [DE 17], filed by Plaintiff on December 11, 2015. The Commissioner filed a response to Plaintiff's brief on March 21, 2016, and Plaintiff filed a reply on March 31, 2016.

         I. Procedural Background

         In February 2014, Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits with the United States Social Security Administration (“SSA”), alleging that she had become disabled as of October 14, 2013. Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. On February 11, 2015, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Jessica Inouye held a hearing at which Plaintiff, represented by counsel, and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. On April 24, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff benefits on the ground that Plaintiff was not disabled.

         In the opinion, the ALJ made the following findings under the required five-step analysis:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2018.
2. The claimant had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 14, 2013, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant had the following severe impairments: right shoulder; degenerative joint disease, rotator cuff disease, and impingement syndrome; cervical and lumbar spine degenerative disease; obesity; sarcoidosis and asthma; obstructive sleep apnea; mild mitral regurgitation and pulmonary hypertension; major depressive disorder; and generalized anxiety disorder.
4. The claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled any of the listed impairments in 20 CFR 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. The claimant had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work in that she could sit for a total of six hours and stand or walk in combination for a total of six hours in an eight-hour work day with normal breaks. The claimant could lift and carry up to twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently. The claimant could never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, and could occasionally climb ramps and stairs. The claimant could occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The claimant needed to avoid concentrated exposure to hazards of moving dangerous machinery and unprotected heights. The claimant needed also to avoid concentrated exposure to pulmonary irritants, extreme temperatures, humidity, and wetness. The claimant could occasionally push, pull, and reach overhead with her right upper extremity. The claimant could understand, remember, and perform simple, repetitive tasks. The claimant could never work with the general public, but could communicate and relate to coworkers and supervisors, and make ordinary work decisions with no over-the-shoulder, intense supervision.
6. The claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. As of the alleged disability onset date, the claimant was fifty-one years old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching advanced age.
8. The clamant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English.
9. Transferability of job skills was immaterial to the disability determination because Plaintiff was “not disabled” under the Medical-Vocational rules irrespective of whether she had 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 had not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from October 14, 2013, through the date of the ALJ's decision.

         On July 6, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, leaving the ALJ's decision as the final decision of the Commissioner. On August 25, 2015, Plaintiff filed the underlying Complaint seeking reversal of the adverse SSA determination.

         The parties consented 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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