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Tuttle v. Berryhill

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

August 27, 2018

RHONDA R. TUTTLE, 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 Rhonda R. Tuttle on March 27, 2017, and Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Reversing the Decision of the Commissioner of Social Security [DE 15], filed by Plaintiff on November 17, 2017. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for benefits or further proceedings. On December 28, 2017, the Commissioner filed a response, and on January 16, 2018, Plaintiff filed a reply.

         I. Procedural Background

         On October 28, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for benefits alleging that she became disabled on June 1, 2013. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On July 14, 2015, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Kimberly S. Cromer held a video hearing at which Plaintiff, with an attorney representative, a vocational expert, and a medical expert testified. On July 31, 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 has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 28, 2013, the application date.
2. The claimant has the severe impairments of depression, anxiety, a cognitive impairment, low back pain, neuropathy, diabetes mellitus, bronchial asthma, sleep apnea, morbid obesity, a left calcaneal spur, avascular necrosis of the talar bone, and tendon synovitis.
3. 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 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
4. The claimant has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a) except she can no more than occasionally operate foot controls bilaterally. She can never climb ladders, ropes, scaffolds, crawl, or kneel. She can no more than occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, and crouch. There is no strong medical evidence in the record to warrant hand limitations. She can do no work at unprotected heights and she needs to avoid work hazards. She must avoid concentrated exposure to pulmonary irritants, extreme humidity, and extreme cold. She is limited to simple routine work involving only occasional decision making and only occasional changes in the work setting. Instructions should be given verbally and by demonstration rather than in complex written form. She can do no work in a fast-paced assembly line environment, and she is precluded from jobs involving tandem work.
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
6. The claimant was 36 years old, defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date the application was filed.
7. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English.
8. 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 transferrable job skills.
9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national ...

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