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Murphy v. Berryhill

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

September 28, 2017

JAMES MURPHY, 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 James R. Murphy on August 10, 2016, and the Plaintiff's Brief in Support of His Motion to Reverse the Decision of the Commissioner of Social Security [DE 9], filed by Plaintiff on December 27, 2016. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed with an award of benefits or remanded for further proceedings. On April 6, 2017, the Commissioner filed a response, and on April 20, 2017, Plaintiff filed a reply. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.

         I. Procedural Background

         On February 5, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for benefits alleging that he became disabled on May 31, 2011. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On November 10, 2014, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Lorenzo Level held a hearing at which Plaintiff, with an attorney, and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. On January 28, 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 met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2016.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date of May 31, 2011.
3. The claimant has had severe impairments of degenerative disc disease and degenerative joint disease of the knees.
4. Since the alleged onset date, the claimant has not had 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 to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 20 CFR 416.967(b) except he can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, can only occasionally climb ramps and stairs, and is limited to no more than occasional stooping, kneeling, crouching, and crawling. He must also avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold and vibrations.
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work as a tool room operator as actually performed. This work did not require the performance of work-related activities precluded by the claimant's residual functional capacity.
7. Because he could perform past relevant work as performed, the claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from his alleged onset date through the date of the ALJ's opinion.

         On June 14, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, leaving the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.984(a).

         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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