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Burke v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

December 20, 2018

JACOB W. BURKE, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Deputy Commissioner for Operations, Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          PAUL R. CHERRY MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff Jacob W. Burke on May 30, 2018, and a Social Security Opening Brief of Plaintiff [DE 16], filed on September 24, 2018. Plaintiff requests that the May 19, 2017 decision of the Administrative Law Judge denying his claim for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On October 31, 2018, the Commissioner filed a response, and Plaintiff filed a reply on November 19, 2018. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On October 28, 2014, and October 31, 2014, Plaintiff filed applications for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income, respectively, alleging disability beginning July 20, 2013. The applications were denied initially and on reconsideration. Plaintiff requested a hearing, and, on January 20, 2017, Administrative Law Judge Stephanie Katich (“ALJ”) held a hearing. In attendance at the hearing were Plaintiff, Plaintiff's friend, Plaintiff's parents, Plaintiff's attorney, and an impartial vocational expert. On May 19, 2017, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision, making the following findings:

1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through June 30, 2017.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 20, 2013, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: diabetic polyneuropathy bilateral feet, chronic venous insufficiency, varicosity in the lower extremities, venous stasis dermatitis, diabetes with resulting diabetic retinopathy with macular edema, status post right eye vitrectomy, and obesity.
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, Appendix 1.
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform the full range of light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), except that he can stand and/or walk, in combination, for two hours during an eight-hour workday, sit for six hours throughout the eight-hour workday, and lift, carry, push and pull up to ten pounds frequently and twenty pounds occasionally. As to postural changes, he can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, and crouch, but can never crawl or climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. Regarding visual tasks, the claimant is able to read print with a font size of 20-24, can perform work activities requiring frequent near acuity, and he should avoid work activity requiring nighttime driving. With respect to his work environment, he should avoid all exposure to unprotected heights, dangerous moving machinery, and wet, slippery, or uneven surfaces.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was born [in 1972] and was 41 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date.
8. The claimant has at least a high school 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, ” whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills.
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 July 20, 2013, through ...

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