Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Strietelmeier v. Berryhill

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

September 25, 2017

DAVID B. STRIETELMEIER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,[1] Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. MARTIN, MAGISTRATE JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

         This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff David B. Strietelmeier on March 11, 2016, and Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Reversing the Decision of Commissioner of Social Security [DE 22], filed by Plaintiff on October 26, 2016. Plaintiff requests that the August 7, 2015, partially favorable decision of the Social Security Administration be reversed or, alternatively, remanded for further proceedings. On January 31, 2017, the Commissioner filed a response, and on February 15, 2017, Plaintiff filed a reply. For the reasons set forth below, the Court denies Plaintiff's request.

         I. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff has filed two applications for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (the “Act”); both are relevant to the instant Motion. He filed his first application on March 17, 2008, alleging that he had been disabled since April 15, 2004. That application was denied initially and at reconsideration, then was again denied by an Administrative Law Judge in an opinion dated September 17, 2010 (the “2010 Denial”). Plaintiff appealed to the Social Security Appeals Council. When the Appeals Council denied review, the 2010 Denial became the final decision of the Commissioner. Plaintiff did not timely appeal that decision.

         On December 12, 2013, Plaintiff filed his second application for DIB, again alleging that he had been disabled since April 15, 2004, due to a back injury, back surgery, permanent nerve damage, depression, and anxiety. The second application was also denied initially and upon reconsideration, at which point Plaintiff requested a hearing before Administrative Law Judge Kimberly Cromer (the “ALJ”).

         On May 20, 2015, Plaintiff also filed an application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits under Title II of the Act; that application was expedited and eventually added to Plaintiff's pending file. At a hearing on June 16, 2015, the ALJ heard argument from Plaintiff's lawyer and testimony from a medical expert and a vocational expert. On August 7, 2015, the ALJ entered a decision finding that Plaintiff was eligible for SSI benefits as of May 20, 2015, the date of his SSI application. However, the ALJ found him ineligible for DIB based on the principle of administrative res judicata. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, and the ALJ's August 7, 2015 decision became the final decision of the Commissioner, reviewable by the District Court. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.984(a), 416.1484(a). Under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), Plaintiff initiated this civil action for judicial review of the Commissioner's final decision.

         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 this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         II. Facts

         A. Background

         Plaintiff was employed as a warehouse worker until he injured his back at work in 2004. He endured two lumbar surgeries, including a spinal fusion in September 2005, and continues to suffer pain and other symptoms. He has also developed cardiomyopathy with congestive heart failure. Neither party contests the fact that Plaintiff is now disabled. Instead, Plaintiff appeals on the narrow legal question of whether the ALJ improperly foreclosed consideration of his eligibility for DIB based on the Administration's final decision on his earlier application.

         B. The 2010 Denial

         Plaintiff last met the insured status requirement for DIB eligibility on December 31, 2009. In the 2010 Denial, the first administrative law judge found that Plaintiff was not under a disability as defined by the Act from his alleged onset date of April 15, 2004 through his date last insured of December 31, 2009. Therefore, Plaintiff did not qualify for DIB.

         C. The 2015 Hearing

         At Plaintiff's hearing before the ALJ on June 16, 2015, Plaintiff's attorney requested that the ALJ reopen Plaintiff's prior DIB application based on new and material evidence. While the ALJ was at that point unaware of Plaintiff's pending SSI application, Plaintiff's attorney argued that the ALJ should consider Plaintiff's eligibility for both DIB and SSI. The ALJ permitted Plaintiff's attorney 14 days to brief the issue of reopening his first DIB application, but she warned, “Otherwise, ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.