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Spann v. Berryhill

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

August 11, 2017

CYNTHIA S. SPANN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          PAUL R. CHERRY MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff Cynthia S. Spann on August 26, 2016, and a Social Security Opening Brief [DE 15], filed by Plaintiff on March 3, 2017. Plaintiff, who is litigating before the Court pro se, requests that the December 24, 2015, partially favorable decision of the Administrative Law Judge regarding her claims for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On June 6, 2017, the Commissioner filed a response. Plaintiff has not filed a reply. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed her application for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income on March 12, 2013, alleging disability since October 15, 2007. She later amended her alleged disability onset date to April 24, 2011. The claim was denied initially and on reconsideration, and she requested a hearing, which was held before Administrative Law Judge Mario G. Silva (ALJ) on November 6, 2015. On December 24, 2015, the ALJ issued a partially favorable decision, making the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2011.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the amended alleged onset date.
3. Since the amended alleged onset date of disability, April 24, 2011, the claimant has had the following severe impairment[s]: cervical and lumbar degenerative disc disease and COPD/asthma. Beginning on the established onset date of disability, March 12, 2013, the claimant has had the following severe impairments: cervical and lumbar degenerative disc disease, bilateral knee degenerative joint disease, diabetes mellitus, COPD/asthma, depression, and obesity.
4. Since the amended alleged onset date of disability, April 24, 2011, the claimant has not had an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that prior to March 12, 2013, the date the claimant became disabled, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except that she could only occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl and never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She was unable to operate foot controls bilaterally. She was limited to work that could be performed on even terrain and on non-slippery surfaces. She could have no more than occasional exposure to extreme heat, extreme cold, wetness, humidity, environmental irritants, such as fumes, odors, dusts, or gases, and to hazards, including dangerous moving mechanical parts or unprotected heights. She required a job that would allow the use of prescription eyeglasses.
6. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that beginning on March 12, 2013, the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except that she can only occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl and never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She is unable to operate foot controls bilaterally. She is limited to work that can be performed on even terrain and on non-slippery surfaces. She can have no more than occasional exposure to extreme heat, extreme cold, wetness, humidity, environmental irritants, such as fumes, odors, dusts, or gases, and to hazards, including dangerous moving mechanical parts or unprotected heights. She requires a job that would allow the use of prescription eyeglasses. She is able to understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions; to make judgments on simple, work-related decisions; and to interact appropriately with coworkers, supervisors, and the general public. She is able to perform such activities within a regular schedule and be punctual within customary tolerances. However, she requires a flexible pace environment (i.e., free of production rate pace where there are no tandem tasks or teamwork where one production step is dependent upon a prior step).
7. Prior to March 12, 2013, the claimant was capable of performing past relevant work as an insurance agent, administrative clerk, and cashier-clerk. This work did not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity.
8. Beginning on March 12, 2013, the claimant's residual functional capacity has prevented the claimant from being able to perform past relevant work.
9. The claimant was an individual of advanced age on March 12, 2013, the established disability onset date.
10. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English.
11. The claimant does not have work skills that are transferable to other occupations within the residual functional capacity defined above.
12. Since March 12, 2013, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are no jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform.
13. The claimant was not disabled prior to March 12, 2013, but became disabled on that date and has continued to be disabled ...

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