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Hensley v. Berryhill

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

September 20, 2017

BARBARA A. HENSLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. MARTIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff Barbara A. Henley on July 8, 2016, and Plaintiff's Opening Brief in a Social Security Matter [DE 13], filed by Plaintiff on November 21, 2016. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On February 24, 2017, the Commissioner filed a response, and on March 14, 2017, Plaintiff filed a reply. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.

         I. Background

         On May 10, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for benefits alleging that she became disabled on October 1, 2009. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On February 20, 2015, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Christopher Helms held a hearing at which Plaintiff, with an attorney, Plaintiff's husband, and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. On March 9, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled.

         The ALJ made the following findings under the required five-step analysis:

1. The claimant last met the insured status of the Social Security Act on December 31, 2011.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of October 1, 2009, through her date last insured of December 31, 2011.
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had severe impairments: “low grade” cervical spondylosis and cervical radiculopathy, degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine and obesity.
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one the listed impairments in 20 CFR 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity to lift and carry up to 10 pounds occasionally and nominal weight frequently, stand and/or walk about 2 hours in an 8-hour workday, and sit about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. The claimant could never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds but may occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl. She was limited to occasional overhead reaching bilaterally and was to avoid concentrated exposure to cold/heat, wetness, humidity, and pulmonary irritants. She could perform handling frequently.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was unable to perform any of her past relevant work.
7. The claimant was a younger individual age 18-44 on the date last insured.
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English.
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is “not disabled, ” ...

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