United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Rodovich United States Magistrate Judge.
matter is before the court on petition for judicial review of
the decision of the Commissioner filed by the plaintiff, John
Martin Ruiz, Sr., on February 22, 2017. For the following
reasons, the decision of the Commissioner is
plaintiff, John Martin Ruiz, Sr., filed an application for
Disability Insurance Benefits on September 15, 2011, alleging
a disability onset date of July 24, 2011. (Tr. 893). The
Disability Determination Bureau denied Ruiz's application
initially and again on reconsideration. (Tr. 893). Ruiz
subsequently filed a timely request for a hearing on June 24,
2012. (Tr. 893). A hearing was held on June 21, 2013, before
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Henry Kramzyk, and the ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision on September 4, 2013. (Tr.
893). The Appeals Council denied review, making the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 893).
Ruiz filed a Complaint in the United States District Court on
April 25, 2014. (Tr. 893). Magistrate Judge John Martin
remanded the ALJ's decision on September 17, 2015. (Tr.
893). The Appeals Council vacated the final decision of the
Commissioner, and remanded the case to an ALJ for further
proceedings consistent with the Order of the court. (Tr.
894). The ALJ, William E. Sampson, held a video hearing on
September 27, 2016, and issued an unfavorable decision on
October 25, 2016. (Tr. 893-910). Impartial Vocational Expert
(VE), Clifford M. Brady, testified at the hearing. (Tr. 894).
filed a Title XVI application for Supplemental Security
Income on January 17, 2014. (Tr. 893). In an initial
determination, Ruiz was found disabled beginning January 17,
2014, based on his impairments equaling Listing 8.04. (Tr.
893). The Appeals Council reviewed the favorable
determination and concluded that it was supported by
substantial evidence, and affirmed the initial determination
finding Ruiz disabled. (Tr. 894).
found that Ruiz met the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act on March 31, 2012. (Tr. 896). At step one
of the five step sequential analysis for determining whether
an individual is disabled, the ALJ found that Ruiz had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity during the period
from his alleged onset date of July 24, 2011, through his
date last insured of March 31, 2012. (Tr. 896). At step two,
the ALJ determined that Ruiz had the following severe
impairments: obesity, diabetes mellitus, meniscal tear and
degenerative changes of the right knee status-post surgery,
degenerative changes to the lumbar spine, diverticulitis of
the colon, dysthymia, and obsessive compulsive disorder. (Tr.
three, the ALJ concluded that through the date last insured
Ruiz did not have an impairment or combination of impairments
that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the
listed impairments. (Tr. 897). Specifically, the ALJ
determined that Ruiz's physical impairments or
combination of impairments did not meet or medically equal
one of the listed impairments, including but not limited to
Listings 1.02, 1.04, and 5.06. (Tr. 897). The ALJ considered
Ruiz's obesity in relation to the musculoskeletal,
respiratory, and cardiovascular body systems listings. (Tr.
898). The ALJ concluded that based on the totality of
evidence Ruiz did not meet or medically equal any of the
listed impairments during the period at issue, but that his
limitations warranted reductions to his residual functional
capacity. (Tr. 898).
concluded that the severity of Ruiz's mental impairments,
considered singly and in combination, did not meet or
medically equal Listings 12.04 and 12.08. (Tr. 898). The ALJ
considered the paragraph B criteria for mental impairments,
which must result in at least two of the following:
marked restriction of activities of daily living; marked
difficulties in maintaining social functioning; marked
difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or
pace; or repeated episodes of decompensation, each of
(Tr. 898). The ALJ defined a marked limitation as more than
moderate but less than extreme and repeated episodes of
decompensation, each of extended duration, as three episodes
within one year or once every four months with each lasting
for at least two weeks. (Tr. 898).
determined that Ruiz had mild restriction in daily living
activities. (Tr. 899). Ruiz denied that he had any difficulty
tending to his personal care. (Tr. 899). However, the ALJ
noted that Ruiz's wife did most of the cooking and that
Ruiz relied on his family for physical assistance. (Tr. 899).
The ALJ indicated that any limitations affecting Ruiz's
ability to engage in daily living activities were related to
his physical complaints, rather than his mental limitations.
the ALJ concluded that Ruiz had moderate difficulties in
social functioning. (Tr. 899). The ALJ noted that Ruiz
indicated that he rarely left the comforts of his home and
that if he did, it was with his wife or children. (Tr. 899).
found that Ruiz had moderate difficulties with concentration,
persistence, or pace. (Tr. 899). Ruiz indicated that he
watched television and that he performed chores around the
house or helped others perform the chores. (Tr. 899). The ALJ
indicated that Ruiz had not experienced any episodes of
decompensation which had been of extended duration. (Tr.
899). Moreover, the ALJ determined that regarding Listing
12.04, Ruiz did not meet the criteria for paragraph C. (Tr.
then assessed Ruiz's residual functional capacity (RFC)
through the date last insured as follows:
The claimant has the residual functional capacity to lift and
carry up to 10 pounds occasionally, lesser weights more
frequently, stand and/or walk about 2 hours in an 8-hour
workday, and sit about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday with
normal breaks. The claimant was to never climb ladders,
ropes, or scaffolds, knelt, or crawled, but could have
occasionally balanced, stooped, crouched, or climbed ramps
and stairs. He was to avoid concentrated exposure to wet,
slippery surfaces and hazards such as dangerous moving
machinery and unprotected heights. From a mental perspective,
the claimant was limited to simple, routine, repetitive
tasks, with only occasional interaction with ...