United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
FALEN E. CARAVAJAL, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
R. CHERRY MAGISTRATE JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by
Plaintiff Falen E. Caravajal on March 22, 2017, and
Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Reversing the Decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security [DE 17], filed by
Plaintiff on August 29, 2017. Plaintiff requests that the
August 10, 2016 decision of the Administrative Law Judge
denying her claim for disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income be reversed and remanded for an
award of benefits or for further proceedings. On October 10,
2017, the Commissioner filed a response, and Plaintiff filed
a reply on October 27, 2017. For the following reasons, the
Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.
December 2, 2013, and May 27, 2014, Plaintiff filed
applications for disability insurance benefits and
supplemental security income, respectively, alleging
disability beginning October 25, 2013. The applications were
denied initially and on reconsideration. On July 18, 2016,
Administrative Law Judge William Spalo (“ALJ”)
held a hearing. In attendance at the hearing were Plaintiff,
Plaintiff's attorney Sean Kelley, and an impartial
vocational expert. On August 10, 2016, the ALJ issued a
written decision denying benefits, making the following
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2019.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since October 25, 2013, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine 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,
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in
20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except no climbing of
ladders, ropes or scaffolds; occasional climbing of ramps and
stairs; occasional balancing, kneeling, stooping, crouching
and crawling; and avoid concentrated exposure to dangerous
machinery, uneven slippery surfaces and unprotected heights.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was born [in 1981] and was 32 years old,
which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44 on the
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 or
not the claimant has transferable job skills.
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that the claimant can perform.
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from October 25, 2013, through
the date of this decision.
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
leaving the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.981,
416.1481. Plaintiff filed this civil action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c) for review of 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