United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond 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,
Monica M., on July 19, 2018. For the following reasons, the
decision of the Commissioner is REMANDED.
plaintiff, Monica M., filed an application for Disability
Insurance Benefits on December 22, 2014, alleging a
disability onset date of September 15, 2013. (Tr. 10). The
Disability Determination Bureau denied Monica M.'s
application initially on March 13, 2015, and again upon
reconsideration on July 21, 2015. (Tr. 10). Monica M.
subsequently filed a timely request for a hearing on
September 9, 2015. (Tr. 10). A hearing was held on January
23, 2017, before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) David R.
Bruce, and the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on May 17,
2017. (Tr. 10-24). Vocational Expert (VE) Julie Bose appeared
and testified at the hearing. (Tr. 10). The Appeals Council
denied review making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-6).
M. met the insured status requirement of the Social Security
Act through March 31, 2018. (Tr. 12). At step one of the
five-step sequential analysis for determining whether an
individual is disabled, the ALJ found that Monica M. had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since September 15,
2013, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 13).
two, the ALJ determined that Monica M. had the following
severe impairments: bipolar disorder, substance abuse
disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome,
arthritis, and degenerative disc disease of the back. (Tr.
13). The ALJ found that the medically determinable
impairments significantly limited Monica M.'s ability to
perform basic work activities. (Tr. 13).
three, the ALJ concluded that Monica M. 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, Appendix 1. (Tr.
14). The ALJ determined that Monica M. did not manifest
clinical signs and findings that met the specific criteria of
any listing. (Tr. 14). Specifically, the ALJ considered the
criteria for listings 1.02, 1.04, 12.02, and 12.04. (Tr. 14).
found that Monica M.'s mental impairments, considered
singly and in combination, did not meet or medically equal
the criteria of listings 12.02 and 12.04. (Tr. 14). 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
understanding, remembering, or applying information;
interacting with others; concentrating, persisting or
maintaining pace; and adapting or managing oneself.
(Tr. 14). 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. 14).
determined that Monica M. had mild limitations in
understanding, remembering, or applying information; a
moderate limitation in interacting with others; moderate
limitations in concentrating, persisting, or maintaining
pace; and mild limitations adapting or managing herself. (Tr.
14-15). Because Monica M.'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. 16).
Additionally, the ALJ determined that Monica M. did not
satisfy the paragraph C criteria. (Tr. 16). The ALJ also
noted that no State agency psychological consultant had
concluded that a mental listing was medically equaled. (Tr.
consideration of the entire record, the ALJ then assessed
Monica M.'s residual functional capacity (RFC) as
[T]he claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b). She can
lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds
frequently. She can push and pull as much as she can lift and
carry. She can sit six hours in an eight-hour workday. She
can stand and/or walk six hours out of an eight-hour workday.
She can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl,
and climb ramps and stairs, but she can never climb ladders,
ropes, or scaffolds. At most, she can perform simple routine
tasks and make simple work-related decisions. She can
occasionally respond appropriately to supervisors,
co-workers, and the public.
(Tr. 16). The ALJ explained that in considering Monica
M.'s symptoms he followed a two-step process. (Tr. 17).
First, he 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 Monica M.'s pain or other symptoms. (Tr. 17).
Then he evaluated the intensity, persistence, and limiting
effects of the symptoms to determine the extent to which they
limited Monica M.'s functioning. (Tr. 17).
considering the evidence, the ALJ found that Monica M.'s
medically determinable impairments reasonably could be
expected to produce her alleged symptoms. (Tr. 18). However,
her statements concerning the intensity, persistence, and
limiting effects of her symptoms were not entirely consistent
with the medical evidence and other evidence in the record.
(Tr. 18). The ALJ concluded that the ...