United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
AUBREY F. GANDY, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
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,
Aubrey F. Gandy, on July 14, 2017. For the following reasons,
the decision of the Commissioner is
plaintiff, Aubrey F. Gandy, filed applications for Disability
Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income on June
23, 2015, alleging a disability onset date of April 25, 2015.
(Tr. 17). The Disability Determination Bureau denied
Gandy's application initially on October 20, 2015, and
again upon reconsideration on January 14, 2016. (Tr. 17).
Gandy subsequently filed a timely request for a hearing on
March 14, 2016. (Tr. 17). A hearing was held on February 13,
2017, before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Edward Kristof,
and the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on March 1, 2017.
(Tr. 17-27). Vocational Expert (VE) Richard T. Fisher and
Gandy appeared and testified at the hearing. (Tr. 17). The
Appeals Council denied review, making the ALJ's decision
the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-3).
met the insured status requirements of the Social Security
Act through March 31, 2016. (Tr. 19). At step one of the
five-step sequential analysis for determining whether an
individual is disabled, the ALJ found that Gandy had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since April 25, 2015,
the alleged onset date. (Tr. 19).
two, the ALJ determined that Gandy had the following severe
impairments: bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD), borderline functioning disorder, and an abdominal
gunshot wound with a history of pancreatitis. (Tr. 20).
Gandy's non-severe impairments consisted of breathing
issues, palpitations, and visual acuity problems. (Tr. 20).
However, the ALJ determined that Gandy's non-severe
impairments did not cause more than a minimal limitation on
his ability to perform basic work activities. (Tr. 20).
three, the ALJ concluded that Gandy did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. (Tr.
20). The ALJ determined that Gandy's mental impairments,
considered singly and in combination, did not meet or
medically equal the criteria of Listings 12.04, 12.11, and
12.15. (Tr. 20). The ALJ considered the paragraph B criteria
for mental impairments, which required at least one extreme
or two marked limitations in a broad area of functioning:
understanding, remembering, or applying information;
interacting with others; concentrating, persisting or
maintaining pace; and adapting or managing oneself.
(Tr. 20). The ALJ defined a marked limitation as functioning
independently, appropriately, effectively, and on a sustained
basis, while an extreme limitation is the inability to
function independently, appropriately, or effectively, and on
a sustained basis. (Tr. 20-21).
determined that Gandy had moderate limitations in
understanding, remembering, or applying information;
interacting with others; concentrating, persisting, or
maintaining pace; and adapting or managing himself. (Tr. 21).
Because Gandy's mental impairments did not cause at least
two “marked” limitations or one
“extreme” limitation, the paragraph B criteria
was not satisfied. (Tr. 21). Additionally, the ALJ determined
that the paragraph C criteria was not satisfied. (Tr. 21).
consideration of the entire record, the ALJ then assessed
Gandy's residual functional capacity (RFC) as follows:
[T]he claimant has the residual functional capacity (RFC) to
lift and carry up to 50 pounds occasionally, 25 pounds
frequently, stand and/or walk about 6 hours in an 8-hour
workday, and sit about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday with
normal breaks. The claimant is to be exposed to no more than
moderate noise environments. He is to avoid all exposure to
unprotected heights or dangerous moving machinery, and can
understand, remember, and carry out instructions needed to
perform unskilled, simple, and repetitive work. The claimant
is further limited to only occasional, brief, and superficial
interaction with coworkers and supervisors, and no
interaction with the public as part of any job duties. He
cannot perform tandem work, or fast-paced/piece-rate work,
and would likely be off-task 5% of the workday beyond regular
breaks. Of note, the claimant alleges restricted ability to
read, write, and perform basic math, so even though he has
completed the 11thgrade, in light of the
claimant's borderline functioning the academic capacities
for this individual has been taken into consideration at the
limited level as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) and
(Tr. 21). The ALJ explained that in considering Gandy's
symptoms he followed a two-step process. (Tr. 22). 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
Gandy's pain or other symptoms. (Tr. 22). Then, he
evaluated the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of
the symptoms to determine the extent to which they limited
Gandy's functioning. (Tr. 22).
found that Gandy's medically determinable impairments
reasonably could be expected to cause the alleged symptoms.
(Tr. 23). However, the ALJ indicated that Gandy's
statements concerning the intensity, persistence, and
limiting effects of his symptoms were not entirely consistent
with the medical evidence and other evidence in the record.
(Tr. 23). The ALJ noted that Gandy had a history of
inconsistent outpatient treatment, with diagnoses consisting
of bipolar, most recent episode depression, PTSD, borderline
intellectual functioning, and a GAF assignment of 50. (Tr.
23). Also, Gandy had difficulty when he was off his
medications. (Tr. 25). Yet, the ALJ noted that Gandy
sustained a full prescription and treatment coverage
throughout the period under consideration. (Tr. 25).
Gandy's treating sources did not suggest that he was
incapable of taking his medications reliably or that he had
undesirable side effects. (Tr. 25). Thus, the ALJ found that
the record suggested that he did not make taking his
medications a priority, which the ALJ determined was
consistent with the longitudinal picture of the unreliability
and inconsistency in his assertions regarding the impact of
his impairments on his functioning. (Tr. 25).
four, the ALJ found that Gandy had no past relevant work.
(Tr. 25). Considering Gandy's age, education, work
experience, and RFC, the ALJ concluded that there were jobs
in the national economy that he could perform, including
laundry laborer (52, 000 jobs nationally), cook's helper
(85, 000 jobs nationally), and meat trimmer (43, 000 jobs
nationally). (Tr. 26). The ALJ found that Gandy had not been
under a disability, ...