Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ham v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

July 2, 2019

JOSHUA M. HAM, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.



         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Joshua M. Ham's (“Ham”) Brief (ECF No. 19), seeking judicial review of Social Security Administration's Decision (ECF No. 10 at 28-39) (the “Decision”) dated November 4, 2015. Defendant Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (the “Commissioner”) filed her Memorandum in Support of the Commissioner's Decision (ECF No. 23) on January 2, 2018. Ham filed his Reply Brief (ECF No. 26) on March 2, 2018. This matter is now ripe for a determination.


         Ham filed his application for Supplemental Security Income on December 4, 2012. That application was denied on March 5, 2013. A Request for Reconsideration was timely filed on or around April 12, 2013, which Request was denied on May 13, 2013. Ham then filed a Request for Hearing by Administrative Law Judge on or around June 18, 2013. That hearing was held on September 9, 2015. On November 4, 2015, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) entered the Decision finding that Ham was not disabled. A Request for Review of Hearing Decision/Order was filed on Ham's behalf on December 23, 2015. That Request was denied by the Appeals Council on January 26, 2017. The determination by the Appeals Council constituted a final decision of the Commissioner. Ham timely filed his Complaint on March 6, 2017, which initiated this judicial review proceeding.


         Disability is defined as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(A). To be found disabled, a claimant must demonstrate that his physical or mental limitations prevent him from doing not only his previous work, but also any other kind of gainful employment that exists in the national economy, considering his age, education, and work experience. § 1382c(a)(3)(B).

         An ALJ conducts a five-step inquiry in deciding whether to grant or deny benefits. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920. The first step is to determine whether the claimant no longer engages in substantial gainful activity (“SGA”). Id. The ALJ determined that Ham had not engaged in SGA since December 4, 2012, the date of his application. (ECF No. 10 at 30).

         In step two, the ALJ determines whether the claimant has a severe impairment limiting his ability to do basic work activities under § 416.920(c). The ALJ determined that Ham had the following severe impairments: lumbar spine degenerative disc disease, scoliosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, obesity, and gout. (ECF No. 10 at 31). The ALJ found that each of these conditions caused more than a minimal limitation in Ham's ability to work, and therefore were “severe” for the purposes of the Social Security Act. (Id.).

         The ALJ additionally determined that, although Ham suffered from hypertension and depression, these conditions were non-severe. (Id. at 31-33). With respect to the hypertension, the ALJ noted that Ham suffered from no related symptoms, and that the condition was generally controllable with medication. (Id. at 31). The ALJ applied 20 C.F.R., Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, § 12.00C in evaluating Ham's mental condition. She found that he had mild limitations in his activities of daily living, no more than mild limitations in his social functioning, no more than mild limitations in his concentration, persistence, and pace, and no episodes of decompensation. (Id. at 32).

         Step three requires the ALJ to “consider the medical severity of [the] impairment” to determine whether the impairment “meets or equals one of the [the] listings in appendix 1 . . . .” § 416.920(a)(4)(iii). If a claimant's impairment(s), considered singly or in combination with other impairments, rise to this level, there is a presumption of disability “without considering [the claimant's] age, education, and work experience.” § 416.920(d). But, if the impairment(s), either individually or in combination, fall short, the ALJ must proceed to step four and examine the claimant's “residual functional capacity” (RFC)-the types of things he can still do, despite his limitations-to determine whether he can perform “past relevant work” (§ 416.920(a)(4)(iv)), or whether the claimant can “make an adjustment to other work” given the claimant's “age, education, and work experience” (§ 416.920(a)(4)(v)).

         The ALJ determined that Ham's impairments, considered alone or in combination with each other, did not meet or equal one of the listed impairments. (ECF No. 10 at 33). The ALJ then determined that Ham had the RFC to:

lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and less than 10 pounds frequently, to stand and/or walk for a total of 2 hours during an 8-hour workday, and to sit for 6 hours during an 8-hour workday; however, the claimant needs the option to alternate his position from sitting to standing for 10 minutes each hour. The claimant can occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, and crouch, but he should never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds and never crawl. The claimant should avoid concentrated exposure to extreme heat, wetness, humidity, fumes, odors, dusts, gases, poor ventilation, hazards, and vibrations. The claimant can occasionally reach overhead bilaterally.

(Id.). Given Ham's RFC, the ALJ determined that he could not perform any past relevant work, but that, considering his age, education, work experience, and RFC, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Ham could perform. (Id.). Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that Ham was not disabled from the date of his application to the date of the Decision.

         In reaching her determination, the ALJ accepted Ham's testimony that he suffered adverse symptoms because of his impairments, but found that Ham's “statements concerning the intensity, persistence and limiting effects of these symptoms are not entirely credible.” (Id. at 34). She reached this conclusion based upon a perceived disconnect between the objective medical evidence and Ham's ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.