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Kaczmarek v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

August 2, 2018

LAURA R. KACZMAREK, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          PAUL R. CHERRY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff Laura R. Kaczmarek on August 18, 2017, and a Social Security Opening Brief of Plaintiff [DE 14], filed by Plaintiff on January 17, 2018. Plaintiff requests that the September 13, 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 January 25, 2018, the Deputy Commissioner filed a response, and Plaintiff filed a reply on March 28, 2018. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On June 13, 2011, Plaintiff filed applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income, alleging disability beginning July 14, 2008. The applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Administrative Law Judge William D. Pierson (“ALJ”) held a hearing and, on May 14, 2013, Magistrate Judge Andrew P. Rodovich, presiding by consent of the parties, granted Plaintiff's request to remand the matter to the agency for further proceedings. On remand, the Appeals Council remanded the matter to ALJ Pierson for a hearing and new decision. The ALJ held a hearing on July 12, 2016. In attendance at the hearing were Plaintiff, Plaintiff's attorney, Plaintiff's son, and an impartial vocational expert. On September 13, 2016, the ALJ issued a written decision denying benefits, making the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2013.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 14, 2008, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: osteoarthritis and bursitis of the hips, sacroiliitis, chronic pain syndrome, myofascial pain syndrome, disorders of the spine (including discogenic and degenerative changes in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine), bilateral shoulder problems (including tendonitis, bursitis, rotator cuff tearing, and degenerative changes), bilateral knee problems (including bursitis, degenerative changes, chondromalacia, patallae alta, Osgood-Schlatter syndrome, and low-grade injuries to some of the ligaments), 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. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except that she can only occasionally bend and stoop in addition to what is required to sit. She can also occasionally kneel, crouch, crawl, and use ramps and stairs (1-2 flights with handrails). She cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds at all.
6. The claimant is capable of performing her past relevant work as a fast food worker.
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from July 14, 2008, through the date of this decision.

(AR 662-73).

         The 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 Agency's decision.

         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 this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).

         STANDARD ...


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