United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, LaFayette Division
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, Mary
J., on April 27, 2018. For the following reasons, the
decision of the Commissioner is REMANDED.
plaintiff, Mary J., filed applications for Disability
Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income on
February 4, 2014, alleging a disability onset date of
September 14, 2012. (Tr. 11). The Disability Determination
Bureau denied Mary J.'s applications initially on June
16, 2014, and again upon reconsideration on September 15,
2014. (Tr. 11). Mary J. subsequently filed a timely request
for a hearing on September 23, 2014. (Tr. 11). A video
hearing was held on January 20, 2017, before Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ) Kathleen Kadlec, and the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on May 16, 2017. (Tr. 11-24). Vocational
Expert (VE) Pamela Tucker appeared and testified at the
hearing. (Tr. 11). The Appeals Council denied review, making
the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. (Tr. 1-3).
met the insured status requirements of the Social Security
Act through June 30, 2017. (Tr. 13). At step one of the
five-step sequential analysis for determining whether an
individual is disabled, the ALJ found that Mary J. had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 14,
2012, her alleged onset date. (Tr. 13).
two, the ALJ determined that Mary J. had the following severe
impairments: obesity, degenerative disc disease, carpal
tunnel syndrome, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
(Tr. 14). The ALJ indicated that Mary J.'s severe
impairments significantly limited her ability to perform
basic work activities. (Tr. 14).
three, the ALJ concluded that Mary J. 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. 14). Specifically, the ALJ determined that Mary J.'s
impairments did not meet listings 1.04 and 11.14. (Tr. 14).
The ALJ also considered Mary J.'s obesity, singly and in
combination with her other impairments, and determined that
although worsened by her obesity her impairments still were
not of listing level severity. (Tr. 14).
the ALJ considered Mary J.'s mental impairments, singly
and in combination, against the criteria listed in listings
12.04 and 12.06. (Tr. 15). In making this finding, the ALJ
considered the paragraph B criteria for mental impairments,
which required at least one extreme or two marked limitations
in a broad area of functioning which include:
understanding, remembering, or applying information;
interacting with others; concentrating, persisting or
maintaining pace; and adapting or managing oneself.
(Tr. 15). The ALJ indicated that a marked limitation means
the ability to function independently, appropriately,
effectively, and on a sustained basis is seriously limited,
while an extreme limitation is the inability to function
independently, appropriately, or effectively, and on a
sustained basis. (Tr. 15).
determined that Mary J. had moderate limitations in
understanding, remembering, or applying information; no
limitations in interacting with others; moderate limitations
in concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; and no
limitations in adapting or managing herself. (Tr. 15).
Because Mary J.'s mental impairments did not cause at
least two “marked” limitations or one
“extreme” limitation, the ALJ determined that the
paragraph B criteria was not satisfied. (Tr. 15).
Additionally, the ALJ determined that Mary J. did not satisfy
the paragraph C criteria. (Tr. 15). The ALJ also noted that
no State agency psychological consultant concluded that a
mental listing was medically equaled. (Tr. 15).
consideration of the entire record, the ALJ then assessed
Mary J.'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 no operation of hand controls; frequent
overhead reaching bilaterally; frequent reaching in other
directions bilaterally; frequent handling, fingering, and
feeling bilaterally; occasionally climbing ramps and stairs,
balancing, stooping, crouching, and crawling; no ladders,
ropes, or scaffolds; no work at unprotected heights or moving
mechanical parts; no operation of commercial motor vehicle;
no exposure to extreme cold; and no outside work. Further,
the claimant is limited to simple routine work procedures,
simple work-related judgments, and changes commensurate with
(Tr. 16). The ALJ explained that in considering Mary J.'s
symptoms she followed a two-step process. (Tr. 16). First,
she determined whether there was an underlying medically
determinable physical or mental impairment that was shown by
a medically acceptable clinical or laboratory diagnostic
technique that reasonably could be expected to produce Mary
J.'s pain or other symptoms. (Tr. 16). Then, she
evaluated the intensity, persistence, and ...