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Johnson v. Berryhill

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

September 20, 2017

CHARLES N. JOHNSON III, 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 Charles Johnson on July 27, 2016, and the Social Security Opening Brief of Plaintiff [DE 19], filed on January 13, 2017. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On April 20, 2017, the Commissioner filed a response, and on May 5, 2017, Plaintiff filed a reply. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.

         I. Background

         On October 1, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for benefits alleging that he became disabled on May 1, 2009. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On June 27, 2014, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Edward P. Studzinski held a hearing at which Plaintiff, with an attorney, and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. On September 24, 2014, 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 met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through June 30, 2015.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 1, 2009, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has severe impairments: vasovagul syncope, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), and obesity.
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one the listed impairments in 20 CFR 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. The claimant has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except he can occasionally climb ramps or stairs; never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; occasionally stoop, kneel, and crouch, and frequently crawl. The claimant cannot drive at work, and he cannot work around unprotected heights, exposed flames, or unguarded bodies of water. He cannot have concentrated exposure to unguarded hazardous machinery. He should have no more than moderate exposure to pulmonary irritants, meaning that exposure cannot be concentrated or prolonged.
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as an inspector general and as a purchasing clerk. This work does not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's RFC.
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from May 1, 2009, through the date of the decision.

         On June 15, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, leaving the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.

         The parties filed forms of consent 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 ...


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