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Jones v. Berryhill

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

March 11, 2019

NATALIE JONES, 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 on October 31, 2017, and Plaintiff's Basis for Social Security Appeal [DE 16], filed April 16, 2018. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed. On May 25, 2018, the Commissioner filed a response. Plaintiff did not file a reply, and the time to do so has passed.

         I. Procedural Background

         On September 23, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for benefits alleging that she became disabled on November 26, 2008. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On July 14, 2016, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Howard Kauffman held a hearing at which Plaintiff, with an attorney representative, a medical expert (“ME”) and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. On September 8, 2016, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, leaving the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.

         The ALJ made the following findings under the required five-step analysis:

1. The claimant met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2013.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 20, 2012, the amended alleged onset date.
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: joint dysfunction of her bilateral knees and right shoulder.
4. The claimant did 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. The claimant had the residual functional capacity to lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. She can sit, stand, or walk for six hours per each eight-hour workday. She cannot climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. The claimant may have no exposure to unprotected heights and moving machinery parts.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was 50 years old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching advanced age, on the alleged disability onset date.
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English.
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or not the ...

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