United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. Rodovich United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the court on petition for judicial review of
the decision of the Commissioner filed by the plaintiff,
Langawa Hampton-Lewis, on July 5, 2017. For the following
reasons, the decision of the Commissioner is
plaintiff, Langawa Hampton-Lewis, filed applications for
Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security
Income on June 3, 2013, alleging a disability onset date of
October 1, 2012. (Tr. 18). The Disability Determination
Bureau denied Hampton-Lewis's applications initially on
August 15, 2013, and again on reconsideration on October 10,
2013. (Tr. 18). Hampton-Lewis filed a timely request for a
hearing on November 11, 2013. (Tr. 18). A video hearing was
held on April 29, 2015, before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
William G. Reamon, and the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision
on July 14, 2015. (Tr. 18). The Appeals Council remanded the
decision and ordered a new hearing. (Tr. 18). A new hearing
was held on January 4, 2017, before ALJ William E. Sampson,
and again the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on January
13, 2017. (Tr. 18-30). Vocational Expert (VE), Thomas A.
Gusloff, and Hampton-Lewis testified at the hearing. (Tr.
18). The Appeals Council denied review, making the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-6).
met the insured status requirements of the Social Security
Act through December 31, 2016. (Tr. 21). The ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on January 13, 2017, and made findings
as to each of the steps in the five-step sequential analysis.
(Tr. 18-30). At step one of the five-step sequential analysis
for determining whether an individual is disabled, the ALJ
found that Hampton-Lewis had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since October 1, 2012, the alleged onset
date. (Tr. 21).
two, the ALJ determined that Hampton-Lewis had the following
severe impairments: osteoarthritis, history of ankle
fracture, and bipolar disorder. (Tr. 21). At step three, the
ALJ concluded that Hampton-Lewis did not have an impairment
or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled
the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R.
Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr. 21). The ALJ considered
Listings 1.02 and 1.06, and did not find that
Hampton-Lewis's osteoarthritis and ankle fracture met or
equaled the criteria specified for the listings. (Tr. 22).
The ALJ found that there was no evidence in the record that
Hampton-Lewis had gross anatomical deformity in any joint or
lacked the ability to ambulate or perform fine or gross
movements effectively. (Tr. 22). The ALJ cited evidence from
the record that Hampton-Lewis had a normal gait on several
occasions. (Tr. 22).
the ALJ determined that the severity of Hampton-Lewis's
mental impairment did not meet or medically equal Listing
12.04. (Tr. 22). In finding that Hampton-Lewis did not meet
the above listing, the ALJ considered the paragraph B
criteria for mental impairments which required at least two
of the following:
marked restriction of activities of daily living; marked
difficulties in maintaining social functioning; marked
difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, or
pace; or repeated episodes of decompensation, each of
(Tr. 22). The ALJ defined a marked limitation as more than
moderate but less than extreme and repeated episodes of
decompensation, each of extended duration, as three episodes
within one year or once every four months with each episode
lasting at least two weeks. (Tr. 22).
determined that Hampton-Lewis had mild restrictions in
activities of daily living. (Tr. 22). Hampton-Lewis indicated
that she sometimes went two or three days before bathing or
combing her hair. (Tr. 22). Yet, the ALJ noted that otherwise
she reported no problems with her personal care. (Tr. 22).
Also, she reported that she was able to wash dishes, do
laundry, sweep, drive, and shop. (Tr. 22).
the ALJ concluded that Hampton-Lewis had moderate
restrictions in social functioning. (Tr. 22). Hampton-Lewis
indicated that she did not have any issues getting along with
family members, friends, neighbors, or others. (Tr. 22).
Moreover, she reported that she regularly talked to friends
and family members on the phone. (Tr. 22).
the ALJ found that Hampton-Lewis had moderate difficulties in
concentration, persistence, or pace. (Tr. 22). The ALJ noted
that Hampton-Lewis completed four or more years of college
and had a history of performing skilled work. (Tr. 23).
Hampton-Lewis indicated that she can follow written and
spoken instructions well. (Tr. 23). The ALJ considered the
State agency consultants' opinion that Hampton-Lewis had
no severe mental impairments. (Tr. 23). Thus, the ALJ found
that Hampton-Lewis had no restrictions in maintaining
concentration, persistence, or pace. (Tr. 23). Moreover, the
ALJ found that Hampton-Lewis did not experience any episodes
of decompensation. (Tr. 23). Because Hampton-Lewis did not
have two marked limitations or one marked limitation and
repeated episodes of decompensation, the ALJ determined that
she did not satisfy the paragraph B criteria. (Tr. 23).
Additionally, the ALJ concluded that she did not satisfy the
paragraph C criteria. (Tr. 23).
consideration of the entire record, the ALJ then assessed
Hampton-Lewis's residual functional capacity (RFC) as
[T]he claimant has the residual functional capacity (RFC) to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b) except the claimant can lift and carry twenty
pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently. The claimant
can sit for six hours and stand and/or walk for six hours for
a total of eight hours in a workday, with normal breaks. The
claimant can occasionally climb stairs and ramps, but cannot
climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. The claimant can
occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The
claimant is limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks and
occasional interaction with coworkers, supervisors, and the
public. The claimant's work must involve few workplace
(Tr. 23). The ALJ explained that in considering
Hampton-Lewis's symptoms he followed a two-step process.
(Tr. 24). First, he determined whether there was an
underlying medically determinable physical or mental
impairment that was shown by a medically acceptable clinical
or laboratory diagnostic technique that reasonably could be
expected to produce Hampton-Lewis's pain or other
symptoms. (Tr. 24). Then, he evaluated the intensity,
persistence, and limiting effects of the symptoms to
determine the extent to which they limited
Hampton-Lewis's functioning. (Tr. 24).
ALJ, after consideration of the evidence, determined that
Hampton-Lewis's medically determinable impairments could
reasonably be expected to cause the alleged symptoms. (Tr.
24). However, her statements concerning the intensity,
persistence, and limiting effects of her symptoms were not
entirely consistent with the medical evidence and other
evidence in the record. (Tr. 24). The ALJ found that the
record indicated that in terms of Hampton-Lewis's alleged
physical impairments she was more than minimally limited, but
not disabled. (Tr. 24). He noted that she had engaged in
relatively little treatment. (Tr. 25). She underwent surgery
on her right ankle on September 20, 2013, but as of October
17, 2013 she was described as healing well and having full
range of motion, as well as functional strength. (Tr. 25).
Also, the ALJ found that the medical records documented few
functional limitations. (Tr. 25). Hampton Lewis had full
muscle strength in her upper and lower extremities. (Tr. 25).
The ALJ noted that the records indicated that Hampton-Lewis
had a normal gait; was able to stoop and squat without
difficulty; and was able to get on and off the examination
table without difficulty and did not require assistance. (Tr.
25). Also, she was able to stand from a sitting position
without difficulty and did not appear to be in acute
distress. (Tr. 25).
in considering Hampton-Lewis's mental impairments the ALJ
noted that she had a history of mental health treatment. (Tr.
25). However, the ALJ indicated that Hampton-Lewis had not
been hospitalized for mental health reasons since her alleged
onset date. (Tr. 25). The ALJ noted that Hampton-Lewis's
mental health records indicated that she only had been
partially compliant with her medication. (Tr. 26). However,
at the time of the decision the ALJ found that she was
compliant with her medication and her most recent record
reported that she was “functioning okay.” (Tr.
the opinion evidence, the ALJ assigned considerable weight to
the opinions of the State agency medical consultants. (Tr.
26). The State agency medical consultants determined that
Hampton-Lewis was limited to work at the medium exertional
level with additional postural limitations. (Tr. 26). Next,
the ALJ assigned some weight to the opinions of the State
agency psychological consultants. (Tr. 27). The State agency
psychological consultants found that Hampton-Lewis did not
have a mental impairment. (Tr. 27). The ALJ assigned little
weight to the opinions of Hampton-Lewis's treating
physicians, Dana Marlowe, MD, and Kular Rajnishpaul, MD. (Tr.
four, the ALJ found that Hampton-Lewis was unable to perform
any past relevant work. (Tr. 28). Considering
Hampton-Lewis's age, education, work experience, and RFC,
the ALJ concluded that there were jobs in the national
economy that she could perform, including
cleaner/housekeeping (200, 000 jobs nationally), linen grader
(50, 000 jobs nationally), and marker (200, 000 jobs
nationally). (Tr. 29-30). The ALJ found that Hampton-Lewis
had not been under a ...