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Hinojosa v. Berryhill

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

September 28, 2017

JACQUELINE M. HINOJOSA, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. MARTIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff on June 3, 2016, and Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Reversing the Decision of the Commissioner of Social Security [DE 16], filed on November 14, 2016. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On January 18, 2017, the Commissioner filed a response, and on February 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed a reply. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.

         I. Procedural Background

         On October 9, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for benefits alleging that she became disabled on June 21, 2006. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On May 22, 2014, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Rebecca LaRiccia held a video hearing at which Plaintiff, with an attorney representative, a medical expert, and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. On October 24, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, leaving the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.

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

1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 9, 2012, the application date.
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: possible systemic lupus erythematosus and gastroparesis.
3. The claimant does not have 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.
4. The claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work with exceptions: the claimant is able to lift 10 pounds occasionally and up to 10 pounds frequently, stand and/or walk for up to 2 hours in an 8-hour work period and sit up to 6 hours in an 8-hour work day. The claimant is capable of frequent, but not constant overhead reaching. She can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, but never ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. The claimant can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The claimant must avoid concentrated exposure to wetness and is to avoid the operation of heavy machinery and unprotected heights, and is not to work in the sun.
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
6. The claimant was 32 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the date the application was filed.
7. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English.
8. 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” whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills.
9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national ...

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