United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
R. CHERRY, MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by
Plaintiff Donna Lafollette on July 27, 2017, and a
Plaintiff's Opening Brief [DE 17], filed on January 11,
2018. Plaintiff requests that the April 14, 2016 decision of
the Administrative Law Judge denying her claim for disability
insurance benefits and supplemental security income be
reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On February
22, 2018, the Commissioner filed a response, and Plaintiff
filed a reply on March 7, 2018. For the following reasons,
the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.
March 14, 2013, Plaintiff filed applications for disability
insurance benefits and supplemental security income, alleging
disability beginning April 5, 2013. The applications were
denied initially and on reconsideration. Administrative Law
Judge Daniel Balutis (“ALJ”) held a hearing. In
attendance at the hearing were Plaintiff, Plaintiff's
attorney, and an impartial vocational expert. On April 14,
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, 2018.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since April 5, 2013, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
cervical spine degenerative disc disease (DDD), status post
cervical fusion; coronary artery disease; chronic pain
disorder; generalized anxiety disorder and depressive
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, I find
that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b). Specifically, the claimant is able to lift up to
20 pounds occasionally and up to 10 pounds frequently, stand
and/or walk for up to 6 hours in an 8-hour workday and sit up
to 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. She would require to
alternate positions every 30 minutes for 5 minutes and she is
able to push and pull as much as she can lift and carry. She
is never to climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds, but is able to
occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel,
crouch, and crawl. The claimant is further limited to
frequent exposure to unprotected heights and moving
mechanical parts. Mentally, the claimant would be able to
understand, remember and carry out simple and routine tasks
and that[sic] any time off task would be accommodated by her
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was born [in 1962] and was 50 years old,
which is defined as an individual closely approaching
advanced age, on the alleged disability onset date.
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to
communicate in English.
9. Transferability of job skills is not an issue in this case
because the claimant's past relevant work is unskilled.
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 April 5, 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
this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and 42 U.S.C.