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Brown v. Berryhill

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

August 9, 2018

SHARON L. BROWN, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOHN E. MARTIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff Sharon L. Brown on April 4, 2017, and Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Reversing the Decision of the Commissioner of Social Security [DE 16], filed December 11, 2017. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On January 22, 2018, the Commissioner filed a response, and on February 5, 2018, Plaintiff filed a reply. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.

         I. Background

         On March 21, 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for benefits alleging that she became disabled on August 31, 2013. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On August 3, 2016, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) William Spalo held a video hearing at which Plaintiff, with an attorney, and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. On August 29, 2016, 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 meets the insured status of the Social Security Act through June 30, 2019.
2. The claimant engaged in substantial gainful activity during the following period: August 31, 2013 through November 2014, but there have been continuous 12-month periods during which the claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity. The findings address those periods.
3. The claimant has severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine, status post surgery on the left ankle and subsequent removal of hardware, asthma, obesity, late effects of cerebrovascular accident, and depression.
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meet or medically equal the severity of one the listed impairments in 20 CFR 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. The claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform light work, except: no climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; occasional climbing ramps or stairs; occasional balancing, stooping, crouching, kneeling, and crawling; frequent handling with the right dominant upper extremity. Claimant must avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold and extreme heat; avoid concentrated exposure to pulmonary irritants such as fumes, odors, dusts, and gases, as well as poorly ventilated areas. Claimant is limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks, and should have only brief superficial interaction with coworkers.
6. The claimant is unable to perform past relevant work.
7. The claimant was 51 years old, defined as an individual closely approaching advancing age, 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 the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or not ...

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