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Burns v. Berryhill

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

March 13, 2018

CHRISTINA MARIE BURNS, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. MARTIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff on December 12, 2016, and on Plaintiff's Brief [DE 9], filed by Plaintiff on May 30, 2017. The Commissioner filed a response to Plaintiff's brief on September 6, 2017. Plaintiff filed no reply, and the time to do so has passed.

         I. Procedural Background

         In June 2013, Plaintiff applied for disability insurance benefits with the United States Social Security Administration (“SSA”), alleging that she had become disabled as of December 21, 2012. Plaintiff's claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. On April 28, 2015, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Michael Carr held a hearing at which Plaintiff, represented by counsel, and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. On July 9, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision denying Plaintiff benefits on the ground that Plaintiff was not disabled.

         In the opinion, 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 September 30, 2015.
2. The claimant had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 21, 2012, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant had the following severe impairments: fibromyalgia; mild degenerative changes of the thoracic spine; arthritic changes in the facet joints at ¶ 3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1; arthritis of the hips; and ankylosing spondylitis.
4. The claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled any of the listed impairments in 20 CFR 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. The claimant had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work, lifting or carrying up to 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently and standing or walking for up to six hours in a work day; and she could frequently climb stairs, ramps, ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and frequently balance, stoop, kneel, crouch or crawl.
6. The claimant was capable of performing her past relevant work as an office manager.
7. In the alternative, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are other jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant could perform.
8. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from January 14, 2012, through the date of the ALJ's decision.

         On October 12, 2016, the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, leaving the ALJ's decision as the final decision of the Commissioner. On December 12, 2016, Plaintiff filed the ...


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