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EcKart v. Berryhill

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

August 31, 2018

LEE ECKHART, 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 Lee Eckhart on June 6, 2017, and Plaintiff's Brief in Support of His Motion to Reverse the Decision of the Commissioner of Social Security [DE 15], filed by Plaintiff on October 27, 2017. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for benefits or further proceedings. On December 7, 2017, the Commissioner filed a response, and on December 20, 2017, Plaintiff filed a reply.

         I. Procedural Background

         On January 14, 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for benefits alleging that he became disabled on November 1, 2010. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On June 17, 2016, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) William E. Sampson held a video hearing at which Plaintiff, with an attorney representative, and a vocational expert testified. On July 7, 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 requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2011.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 1, 2010, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: degenerative disc disease of lumbar spine and cervical spine, bi-polar disorder, anxiety, an adjustment disorder and drug and alcohol abuse.
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 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) with exceptions. Specifically, the claimant is able to lift up to 20 pounds occasionally and up to 10 pounds frequently, stand and/or walk up to 6 hours in an 8-hour workday and sit up to 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. He is never to climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, but is occasionally able to climb ramps and stairs and balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl. Mentally, he is limited to simple, routine and repetitive tasks. He is able to have occasional interaction with his co-workers and supervisors and is to have no interaction with the public.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was 31 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date.
8. The claimant has a marginal 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, ” ...

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