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Long v. Commissioner of Social Security

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

March 28, 2017

NICOLE E. LONG, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, sued as Carolyn W. Colvin, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. MARTIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff on November 2, 2015, and on Plaintiff's Opening Brief in a Social Security Matter [DE 16], filed by Plaintiff on March 23, 2016. The Commissioner filed a response to Plaintiff's brief on June 29, 2016, and Plaintiff filed a reply on July 13, 2016.

         I. Procedural Background

         In May 2012, Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits with the United States Social Security Administration (“SSA”), alleging that she had become disabled as of April 2, 2010. Plaintiff later amended her onset date to January 14, 2012. Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. On March 18, 2014, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Christa Zamora held a hearing at which Plaintiff, represented by counsel, and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. On April 8, 2014, 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, 2017.
2. The claimant had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 14, 2012, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant had the following severe impairments: lupus; carpal tunnel syndrome; arthritis; degenerative disc disease; hyperthyroidism; rheumatoid arthritis; deppresive disorder; anxiety disorder; and somatoform 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, except that she is limited to the performance of simple routine tasks and simple work related decisions.
6. The claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. As of the alleged disability onset date, the claimant was 40 years old, which is defined as a younger individual.
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 ...

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