United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
AMANDA L. GRAY, 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,
Amanda L. Gray, on November 2, 2017. For the following
reasons, the decision of the Commissioner is
plaintiff, Amanda L. Gray, filed applications for Disability
Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income on
September 15, 2008, alleging a disability onset date of
September 2, 1985. (Tr. 389). The Disability Determination
Bureau denied Gray's applications initially on January 6,
2009, and upon reconsideration on March 17, 2009. (Tr.
237-240). The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an
unfavorable decision on June 24, 2011. (Tr. 206-223). Gray
filed a request for review of the ALJ's decision with the
Appeals Council, and the Appeals Council issued an Order
remanding the case to the ALJ. (Tr. 232-235). The ALJ issued
a second unfavorable decision. (Tr. 13-38). The Appeals
Council denied review, making the ALJ's decision the
final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-5).
filed an appeal in the United States District Court Northern
District of Indiana that was remanded by District Judge Jon
E. DeGuilio on January 13, 2016. (Tr. 1441-1461). A third
hearing was held on August 11, 2016 before ALJ William E.
Sampson, and the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on
September 15, 2016. (Tr. 1175-1196). Gray and her brother,
Robert Gray, appeared and testified at the hearing. (Tr.
1175). Vocational Expert (VE) Carrie E. Anderson appeared
telephonically at the hearing. (Tr. 1175). The Appeals
Council denied review, making the ALJ's decision the
final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1161-1168).
met the insured status requirements of the Social Security
Act through December 31, 2008. (Tr. 1177). At step one of the
five-step sequential analysis for determining whether an
individual is disabled, the ALJ found that Gray had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 2,
1985, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 1177).
two, the ALJ determined that Gray had the following severe
impairments: right upper extremity ulnar neuropathy, plantar
fasciitis, bilateral calcaneal heel bursitis, bronchial
asthma, morbid obesity, learning disorder, ADHD, dysthymic
disorder, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and personality
disorder. (Tr. 1178). The ALJ determined that Gray's
impairments caused more than minimal limitations in her
ability to perform basic work-related activities and were
considered severe. (Tr. 1178).
three, the ALJ concluded that Gray 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. 1178). The ALJ
considered listing 1.02 (major dysfunction of a joint) and
listing 3.02 (chronic pulmonary insufficiency). (Tr. 1178).
Additionally, the ALJ considered Gray's obesity in
relation to the musculoskeletal, respiratory, and
cardiovascular body system listings, as required. (Tr. 1178).
also considered the severity of Gray's mental
impairments, singly and in combination, against the criteria
of listings 12.02, 12.04, and 12.06. (Tr. 1178). In finding
that Gray did not meet the above listings, 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
(Tr. 1178). 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. 1178).
determined that Gray had mild restriction in activities of
daily living, moderate difficulties in social functioning,
and moderate difficulties in concentration, persistence, or
pace. (Tr. 1178). Additionally, the ALJ determined that Gray
had not experienced any episodes of decompensation which were
of extended duration. (Tr. 1178). Because Gray's mental
impairments did not cause at least two “marked”
limitations or one “marked” limitation and
“repeated” episodes of decompensation, each of
extended duration, the paragraph B criteria was not
satisfied. (Tr. 1181). Moreover, the ALJ concluded that the
paragraph C criteria was not satisfied. (Tr. 1181).
consideration of the entire record, the ALJ then assessed
Gray's residual functional capacity (RFC) as follows:
[T]he claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b) except she can never climb ladders, ropes,
scaffolds, kneel, crouch or crawl, or more than occasionally
climb ramps or stairs. She can frequently but not constantly
use the right upper extremity. She must avoid concentrated
exposure to humidity, wetness, breathing irritants such as
fumes, odors, dust, gases, loud noise, extremes of heat and
cold, and vibration. She is limited to simple, routine,
repetitive tasks, with ...