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Lucas v. Berryhill

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

June 13, 2019

NICOLE LUCAS, 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 Nicole Lucas on February 23, 2018, and Plaintiff's Social Security Opening Brief [DE 21], filed October 1, 2018. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On December 11, 2018, the Commissioner filed a response, and on January 14, 2019, Plaintiff filed a reply.

         I. Background

         On August 18, 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for benefits alleging that she became disabled on August 1, 2010. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On March 21, 2017, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Edward Kristof held a hearing, at which Plaintiff, with an attorney, and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. At the hearing, Plaintiff requested that her alleged onset date be amended to June 30, 2014. On August 1, 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 last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on June 30, 2016.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her amended alleged onset date of June 30, 2014 through her date last insured of June 30, 2016.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: diabetes mellitus with neuropathy, retinopathy with left retinal detachment, history of deep vein thrombosis and hypertension, arthritis of the hip, anemia, and morbid obesity.
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equal the severity of one the listed impairments in 20 CFR 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity (RFC) to lift and carry up to 20 pounds occasionally, 10 pounds frequently, stand and/or walk about 2 hours in an 8-hour workday, and sit about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday with normal breaks. The claimant must be allowed the option to change positions from sitting to standing and vice-versa every 30 minutes while remaining at her workstation. She must never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, crawl, or crouch, can rarely use stairs, and only with a hand-rail, and occasionally climb ramps, balance and kneel. The claimant has no vision in her left eye. Her right eye retains the visual acuity of 20/30, so a significant reduction in depth perception, and a reduced peripheral vision to the left must be accommodated in her work. She must avoid all exposure to unprotected heights, hazardous machinery, and she cannot operate a motorized vehicle.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was 36 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date last insured.
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 using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is "not disabled," whether or not ...

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