United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
JIM W. BARR, Plaintiff,
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
P. KOLAR MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by
Plaintiff Jim W. Barr on April 24, 2018, and an Opening Brief
of Plaintiff in Social Security Appeal [DE 23], filed on
December 21, 2018. Plaintiff requests that the February 22,
2018 decision of the Administrative Law Judge denying his
claim for supplemental security income be reversed and
remanded for an award of benefits or, in the alternative, for
a new hearing. The Commissioner filed a motion to remand this
case for a new hearing, which was opposed by Plaintiff. The
Court denied that motion on March 19, 2019, and reset the
briefing deadlines on the sole issue of whether an award of
benefits or a new hearing is the proper course of action. The
Commissioner filed a response on April 2, 2019, and Plaintiff
filed a reply on April 12, 2019. For the following reasons,
the Court remands this matter for further administrative
16, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for supplemental
security income, alleging disability as of June 29, 2012. The
claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. Plaintiff
requested a hearing, which was held before an Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ). On October 25, 2013, the ALJ issued an
unfavorable hearing decision finding that Plaintiff had not
been under a disability from June 29, 2012, through October
25, 2013. Plaintiff appealed this decision, which ended up in
federal court in a different cause of action.
filed a new claim for supplemental security income on March
9, 2015, alleging disability as of October 26, 2013. On June
9, 2015, Plaintiff was awarded benefits on this new claim as
of January 2015.
September 29, 2015, Magistrate Judge Andrew P. Rodovich of
the Northern District of Indiana issued an Order reversing
the October 25, 2013 decision of the ALJ and remanding for
further administrative proceedings. This Order was issued
based on the parties' agreement that remand was proper.
Judge Rodovich ordered:
On remand, the Appeals Council will direct the Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ) to consider the plaintiff's credibility
further and to explain the basis for any credibility finding
fully. Additionally, the ALJ should consider the evidence of
record, including the “Report of Psychiatric
Status” at pages 379 through 384 of the administrative
(AR 724). The Appeals Council remanded the matter
(that is, Plaintiff's first claim) for a new hearing
before an ALJ. The case was assigned to a new ALJ, who chose
to reopen the second claim. The ALJ held a hearing on both
claims and, subsequently, issued a decision finding that
Plaintiff was not disabled until May 28, 2015. Plaintiff
filed exceptions with the Appeals Council, which, on March 6,
2017, vacated the unfavorable portion of the ALJ's
decision and remanded the matter for a new decision for the
period prior to May 28, 2015.
held a new hearing on September 6, 2017. On December 21,
2017, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision. The ALJ issued
an amended unfavorable decision on February 22, 2018, making
the following findings:
1. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful
activity since June 29, 2012, the application date.
2. The claimant had the following severe impairments: status
post surgery of the lumbar spine (back) with residual
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar and cervical spines;
diabetes mellitus; bipolar disorder; borderline split
personality disorder; depression; and post-traumatic stress
3. The claimant did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one
of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the [ALJ
found] that, prior to May 28, 2015, the claimant had the
physical residual functional capacity to perform light work
activity as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b), except that he
could not reach overhead with his left upper extremity on a
frequent basis, but could do so on an occasional basis. As to
postural changes, he could occasionally climb ramps and
stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, and crouch, but could never
crawl or climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. With respect to
his work environment, he had to avoid slippery and/or uneven
surfaces, unprotected heights, and hazards. The claimant
retained the mental residual functional capacity to
understand, remember, and carry out simple instructions, make
judgments on simple work-related decisions, respond
appropriately to usual work situations, and deal with changes
in a routine work setting. As to social interactions, he
could interact with co-workers, supervisors, and the general
public on an occasional basis.
5. The claimant has no past relevant work.
6. The claimant was born [in 1960] and was 52 years old,
which is defined as an individual closely approaching
advanced age, on the date the application was filed.
7. The claimant has a limited education and is able to
communicate in English.
8. Transferability of job skills is not an issue because the
claimant does not have past relevant work.
9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national ...