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Seabolt v. Berryhill

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

February 28, 2019

CHRISTINA M. SEABOLT, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Andrew P. Rodovich United States Magistrate Judge

         This matter is before the court on petition for judicial review of the decision of the Commissioner filed by the plaintiff, Christina M. Seabolt, on September 7, 2017. For the following reasons, the decision of the Commissioner is REMANDED.

         Background

         The plaintiff, Christina M. Seabolt, filed an application for Disability Insurance Benefits on June 28, 2014, alleging a disability onset date of April 1, 2013. (Tr. 20). The Disability Determination Bureau denied Seabolt's application on September 29, 2014, and again upon reconsideration on November 17, 2014. (Tr. 20). Seabolt subsequently filed a timely request for a hearing on December 3, 2014. (Tr. 20). A video hearing was held on July 28, 2016, before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Matthew Johnson, and the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on August 31, 2016. (Tr. 20-32). Vocational Expert (VE) Clifford M. Brady testified at the hearing. (Tr. 20). The Appeals Council denied review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-3).

         Seabolt met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through June 30, 2019. (Tr. 22). At step one of the five-step sequential analysis for determining whether an individual is disabled, the ALJ found that Seabolt had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 1, 2013, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 22).

         At step two, the ALJ determined that Seabolt had the following severe impairments: depression, anxiety, and panic disorder with agoraphobia. (Tr. 22). The ALJ indicated that Seabolt also was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), back pain, and obesity. (Tr. 22). However, the physical exams in the record showed no abnormalities other than her obesity. (Tr. 22). Therefore, the ALJ found that Seabolt's back pain, obesity, and GERD were non-severe impairments. (Tr. 22).

         At step three, the ALJ concluded that Seabolt 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. 23). The ALJ considered Seabolt's mental impairments, singly and in combination, against the criteria set forth in Listings 12.04 and 12.06. 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 extended duration.

(Tr. 23). 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. 23).

         The ALJ determined that Seabolt had a mild restriction in activities of daily living. (Tr. 23). Seabolt reported that she cared for her three children, she cared for her own personal hygiene, and she prepared basic meals. (Tr. 23). However, she needed reminders to take her medication at night. (Tr. 23).

         The ALJ found that Seabolt had moderate difficulties in social functioning. (Tr. 23). Seabolt indicated that she had increased anxiety when she was in public and that she needed her husband to go to the grocery store. (Tr. 23). However, the ALJ noted that Seabolt testified that she went to the gym, took her children to the pool, and regularly attended therapy sessions and appointments with her psychiatrist. (Tr. 23). Also, the ALJ noted that Seabolt did not have any problems getting along with family, friends, or neighbors. (Tr. 23).

         The ALJ determined that Seabolt had moderate difficulties with concentration, persistence, or pace. (Tr. 23). Seabolt indicated that her ability to maintain attention and concentration was severely limited, yet the ALJ noted that the treatment notes provided by Seabolt's psychiatrist, Dr. Mario Robbins, indicated that her mental status exams showed her concentration level was good. (Tr. 23). Also, the ALJ found that Seabolt did not experience any episodes of decompensation which would have been of extended duration. (Tr. 24). Because Seabolt's limitations did not cause at least two “marked” limitations or one “marked” limitation and “repeated” episodes of decompensation which had been of extended duration, the ALJ found that the paragraph B criteria was not satisfied. (Tr. 24). Additionally, the ALJ found that the paragraph C criteria was not satisfied. (Tr. 24).

         After consideration of the entire record, the ALJ then assessed Seabolt's residual functional capacity (RFC) as follows:

[T]he claimant has the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations: the claimant can understand, carry out, remember and perform simple, routine tasks that involve simple work-related decisions. She has the ability to adapt to only routine workplace changes. The claimant can ...

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