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Dearth v. Berryhill

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

March 9, 2018

KIMBERLY DEARTH, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. MARTIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.

         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 February 26, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for benefits alleging that she became disabled on August 3, 2012. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On February 11, 2015, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Christopher Helms held a hearing at which Plaintiff, with an attorney representative, a vocational expert (“VE”), and two of Plaintiff's family members testified. On February 26, 2015, 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 her alleged onset date of August 3, 2012.
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: seizures; degenerative disk disease of the cervical and lumbar spine; migraines; fibromyalgia; anxiety; and depression.
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, sitting for six hours and standing or walking for two hours in an eight-hour workday and occasionally lifting or carrying up to ten pounds, with the following limitations: she cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; she is limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks and occasional contact with the public; and she must avoid exposure to moving mechanical parts and unprotected heights.
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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