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Harris v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

March 30, 2017

ROBIN DIANE HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, sued as Carolyn W. Colvin, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. MARTIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Complaint, filed by Plaintiff on November 2, 2015, and on Plaintiff s Social Security Brief in Support of Remand for Further Proceedings [DE 14], filed by Plaintiff on February 15, 2016. The Commissioner filed a response to Plaintiff s brief on February 15, 2016, and Plaintiff filed a reply on June 6, 2016.

         I. Procedural Background

         In November 2012, Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits with the United States Social Security Administration ("SSA"), alleging that she had become disabled as of September 28, 2009. Plaintiff later amended her onset date to August 22, 2010. Plaintiff s claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. On March 24, 2014, Administrative Law Judge ("ALT') William D. Pierson held a hearing at which Plaintiff, represented by a non-attorney representative and an attorney, and a vocational expert ("VE") testified. On July 11, 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 September 30, 2012.
2. The claimant had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August 22, 2010, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant had the following severe impairments: cervical degenerative disc disease; cervical and thoracic myofascial syndrome; cervicalgia; obesity; and occiptial neuritis headaches.
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 could not climb ropes, ladders, or scaffolds, and she could only occasionally crawl, crouch, kneel, and stoop.
6. The claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. As of the alleged disability onset date, the claimant was 50 years old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching advanced age.
8. The clamant has a limited 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 ...

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