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Cobb v. Saul

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

September 9, 2019

THOMAS COBB III, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          MAGISTRATE JUDGE JOHN E. MARTIN JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by Plaintiff Thomas Cobb, III on April 6, 2018, and Plaintiff's Opening Brief [DE 20], filed September 24, 2018. Plaintiff requests that the decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and remanded for further proceedings. On November 5, 2018, the Commissioner filed a response. Plaintiff did not file a reply. For the foregoing reasons, the Court affirms the Commissioner's decision.

         I. Background

         On January 22, 2008, Plaintiff filed applications for benefits alleging that he became disabled on November 1, 2007. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. On July 7, 2011, Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Marlene R. Abrams issued a partially favorable decision, finding Plaintiff disabled as of December 5, 2010. Plaintiff appealed and the Appeals Council denied review. On January 10, 2013, the District Court remanded the ALJ's decision pursuant to the parties' joint motion. Two additional hearings were held, on October 15, 2013 and May 6, 2014, with ALJ Romona Scales. On July 23, 2014, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Plaintiff was not disabled at any time after his alleged onset date. The Appeals Council remanded the matter back to the ALJ on January 29, 2016. An additional hearing was held on October 28, 2016 before ALJ Scales, at which Plaintiff, with an attorney, an impartial medical expert (“ME”), and a vocational expert (“VE”) testified. On July 27, 2017, the ALJ issued a decision again finding that Plaintiff was not disabled.

         The ALJ made the following findings under the required five-step analysis:

1. The claimant's date last insured is June 30, 2009.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since November 1, 2007, the alleged onset date.
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: morbid obesity, obstructive sleep apnea (“OSA”), and degenerative disc disease.
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. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) except that he can only occasionally climb ramps and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, and/or crouch, but he can never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds or crawl. The work must not require driving as a condition of employment, and he must avoid all exposure to work at unprotected heights and/or around dangerous moving machinery or on slippery/uneven wet surfaces. The claimant must avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold, and pulmonary irritants such as fumes, odors, dusts, gases, and areas of poor ventilation as well as vibration. Lastly, the claimant may require the need to alternate between sitting and standing, once each hour, for 10 minutes, while remaining at the workstation and on task.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
7. The claimant was 32 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the alleged disability onset date.
8. The claimant has a limited 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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