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Sullivan v. Saul

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

July 25, 2019

GORDON L. SULLIVAN, SR., Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of the 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 Gordon L. Sullivan, and Plaintiff's Opening Memorandum [DE 22], filed January 21, 2019. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On March 1, 2019, the Commissioner filed a response, and on March 17, 2019, Plaintiff filed a reply. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.

         I. Background

         On February 15, 2015, Plaintiff filed an application for benefits alleging disability beginning May 8, 2014. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On May 10, 2017, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Robert Long held a video hearing at which Plaintiff, with counsel, and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. On July 31, 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 meets the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2019.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 8, 2014, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: obesity, diabetes mellitus, essential hypertension, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, substance induced depressive disorder, and major depressive disorder.
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one the listed impairments in 20 CFR 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. The claimant has the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c) with some additional limitations. More specifically, he is able to lift and carry up to 50 pounds occasionally and 25 pounds frequently, stand or walk for a total of six hours of an eight-hour work day, and sit for a total of six hours of an eight-hour workday. He can maintain only occasional interaction with supervisors, only occasional and superficial interaction with coworkers, and no interaction with the general public. He can occasionally work outside, and he can only perform low-stress work (i.e., work in which change is only introduced gradually and requires no decision making).
6. The claimant unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was 49 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant subsequently changed age category to closely approaching advanced age.
8. The claimant has at least a high school 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, ” ...

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