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Vogel v. Saul

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

September 4, 2019

VICKI RENE VOGEL, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW 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 Vicki Rene Vogel on June 11, 2018, and Plaintiff's Opening Brief [DE 21], filed December 7, 2018. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On February 15, 2019, the Commissioner filed a response, and on February 20, 2019, Plaintiff filed a reply. For the following reasons, the Court grants Plaintiff's request for remand.

         I. Background

         On September 23, 2014, Plaintiff filed an application for benefits alleging that she became disabled on September 1, 2014. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On May 17, 2017, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Robert Long held a hearing at which Plaintiff, with an attorney, and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. On July 6, 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 Social Security Act through September 30. 2019.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 1, 2014, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has severe impairments: fibromyalgia and degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine and cervical spine with radiculopathy.
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meet or medically equal the severity of one the listed impairments in 20 CFR 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1.
5. 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 6 hours in an 8-hour workday, and sit about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday with normal breaks. The claimant must never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds, or crawl, but can occasionally climb ramps or stairs, balance, kneel, or crouch. She is limited to only occasional exposure to wetness and vibration, and hazards such as unprotected heights and moving machinery. Further, the claimant must never stoop (bend at the waist except when sitting), and is limited to frequent use of a cane for ambulation. She is able to frequently but not constantly handle, finger, and reach bilaterally.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was 51 years old, which is defined as an individual closely approaching advanced age, on the alleged disability onset date.
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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