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Brown v. Berryhill

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

February 7, 2019

LALISEA V. BROWN, 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 Lalisea V. Brown on February 14, 2018, and an Opening Memorandum [DE 19], filed August 16, 2018. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On September 12, 2018, the Commissioner filed a response, and on October 4, 2018, Plaintiff filed a reply.

         I. Background

         On November 18, 2013, Plaintiff filed applications for benefits alleging that she became disabled on June 30, 2012. Plaintiff's applications were denied initially and upon reconsideration. On November 9, 2016, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Edward Kristof held a hearing at which Plaintiff, Plaintiff's case manager, and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. Plaintiff was represented by an attorney at the hearing. On February 15, 2017, 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 June 30, 2015.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since June 30, 2012, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: fibromyalgia, mild degenerative changes in the lumbar spine and mild degenerative changes in the cervical spine, sleep apnea, mild right shoulder tendinosis and mild left subacromial subdeltoid bursitis and focal tendinitis of the shoulder, obesity, and a bipolar disorder versus depression.
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one the listed impairments in 20 CFR 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. The claimant has the residual functional capacity to lift and carry up to 10 pounds occasionally and nominal weight frequently, stand and/or walk for about 2 hours of an 8 hour workday and sit for about 6 hours of an 8 hour workday. She uses a cane in one hand for standing and walking and cannot operate a motor vehicle as part of her job duties. She can occasionally bend and stoop, and never climb ramps/stairs/ladders/ropes/scaffolds, kneel, crouch, or crawl. She cannot reach overhead bilaterally and can perform no more than frequent handling and fingering. She should avoid exposure to workplace hazards including unprotected heights or moving machinery. She is limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks; occasional interaction with supervisors and coworkers; no interaction with the general public; and cannot perform assembly line type of work or timed tasks.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was 45 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 45-49, 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, ” ...

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