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Harney v. Berryhill

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

May 7, 2018

MICHAEL A. HARNEY, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, performing the duties and functions not reserved to the 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 Michael A. Harney on April 28, 2017, and on an Opening Brief [DE 13], filed by Plaintiff on September 19, 2017. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On October 30, 2017, Defendant filed a response, and on November 10, 2017, Plaintiff filed a reply. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.

         I. Procedural Background

         On July 8, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for disability insurance benefits alleging that he was disabled starting on July 3, 2013. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On November 10, 2015, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) George Michael Gaffaney held a hearing at which Plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared and testified. Plaintiff's wife and a vocational expert (“VE”) also testified. On December 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, 2017.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 3, 2013, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: post-status bilateral knee surgery; frozen left ankle (congenital); and obesity.
4. 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.
5. The claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work, lifting twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently, except that he can only stand and walk for two hours in an eight-hour work day and can sit for six hours in an eight-hour work day and requires a cane to ambulate. In addition, he can never climb ladders, kneel, crouch, or crawl; he can occasionally climb stairs, stoop, and balance; and he must avoid all exposure to hazards.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was 38 years of age, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on his alleged disability onset date.
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English.
9. 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 ...

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