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Flores v. Saul

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

August 14, 2019

MICHAEL EDWARD FLORES, 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 Michael Edward Flores on May 23, 2018, and Plaintiff's Opening Brief [DE 22], filed November 13, 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 9, 2019, Plaintiff filed a reply. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.

         I. Background

         On July 28, 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for benefits alleging disability beginning May 10, 2014. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On March 7, 2017, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Diane Davis held a video hearing at which Plaintiff, with counsel, and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. On April 27, 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 has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since July 28, 2014, the application date.
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: fracture of the thoracic spine resulting in fusion, and mild spinal stenosis of lumbar spine.
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
4. The claimant has the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b). The claimant can lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently. He can stand and/or walk for about six hours total and sit for about six hours total. The claimant can frequently balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, and climb ramps and stairs. He can occasionally climb ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. The claimant should avoid concentrated exposure to temperature extremes, vibration, and hazards, such as unprotected heights.
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
6. The claimant was 47 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on the date the application was filed. The claimant subsequently changed to an individual closely approaching advanced age.
7. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English.
8. Considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant can perform.

         The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review, leaving the ALJ's decision the ...


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