United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
ROSA L. FLORES, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
R. CHERRY MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by
Plaintiff Rosa L. Flores on November 3, 2017, and on an
Opening Brief of Plaintiff in Social Security Appeal Pursuant
to L.R. 7.3 [DE 23], filed by Plaintiff on June 26, 2018.
Plaintiff requests that the March 24, 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 August 21, 2018, the Deputy Commissioner
filed a response, and Plaintiff filed a reply on October 30,
2018. For the following reasons, the Court grants
Plaintiff's request for remand.
27, 2011, Plaintiff filed applications for disability
insurance benefits and supplemental security income, alleging
disability as of March 25, 2009, which has been amended to
November 5, 2010. The applications were denied initially and
on reconsideration. Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Maryann
Bright held a hearing and ultimately denied benefits. On
February 9, 2015, 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 Stephanie Katich for a hearing and new
decision. The ALJ held a hearing on February 17, 2016. In
attendance at the hearing were Plaintiff, Plaintiff's
attorney, Plaintiff's son, and an impartial vocational
expert. Plaintiff testified with the assistance of a Spanish
interpreter. On March 24, 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 September 30, 2014.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since March 25, 2009 [sic], the alleged
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, status post L5
hemilaminectomy and discectomy; bilateral knee
osteoarthritis; obesity; pain disorder; hypothyroidism;
vitamin D deficiency; and, depression.
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, 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 the claimant can
stand and/or walk for two hours in an eight-hour workday; she
can occasionally climb ramps and stairs; she can never climb
ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; she can occasionally balance,
stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; and, she should avoid all
exposure to wetness and humidity, uneven surfaces,
unprotected heights, and hazards such as dangerous machinery.
In addition, due to a combination of the claimant's
impairments and impairment-related symptoms, including any
loss of concentration, persistence, or pace due to her pain
symptoms, the claimant can understand, remember, and carry
out simple instructions, she can make judgments on simple
work-related decisions, she can respond appropriately to
supervisors, coworkers, and the public, she can respond to
usual work situations, and she can deal with routine changes
in a routine work setting.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was born [in 1968] and was 41 years old,
which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the
alleged disability onset date.
8. The claimant is illiterate and is able to communicate in
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 March 25, 2009, through ...