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,
Torie B., on October 11, 2018. For the following reasons, the
decision of the Commissioner is REMANDED.
plaintiff, Torie B., filed an application for Disability
Insurance Benefits on July 2, 2015, alleging a disability
onset date of August 17, 2013. (Tr. 16). The Disability
Determination Bureau denied Torie B.'s application
initially on August 11, 2015, and again upon reconsideration
on December 21, 2015. (Tr. 16). Torie B. subsequently filed a
timely request for a hearing on February 9, 2016. (Tr. 16). A
hearing was held on July 14, 2017, before Administrative Law
Judge (ALJ) Trina Moore, and the ALJ issued an unfavorable
decision on November 21, 2017. (Tr. 16-25). Vocational Expert
(VE) Stephanie Archer appeared at the hearing. (Tr. 16). The
Appeals Council denied review making the ALJ's decision
the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-3).
B. last met the insured status requirements of the Social
Security Act on June 30, 2016. (Tr. 18). At step one of the
five-step sequential analysis for determining whether an
individual is disabled, the ALJ found that Torie B. had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity during the period
from her alleged onset date of August 17, 2013 through her
date last insured of June 30, 2016. (Tr. 18).
two, the ALJ determined that Torie B. had the following
severe impairments: chronic hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia,
breast cancer/ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), fibrocystic
breast disease/breast fibroadenoma, asthma, degenerative disc
disease of the lumbar spine, and obesity. (Tr. 18). The ALJ
found that the above medically determinable impairments
significantly limited Torie B.'s ability to perform basic
work activities. (Tr. 18).
B. also alleged disability due to her chronic migraines and
insomnia with observed sleep apnea. (Tr. 18). However, the
ALJ indicated that Torie B.'s migraines and insomnia were
well-controlled and caused no more than a minimal limitation
on her ability to engage in basic work activities. (Tr. 19).
Furthermore, the ALJ determined that Torie B.'s anxiety
did not cause more than a minimal limitation on her ability
to engage in basic work activities. (Tr. 19). The ALJ found
that Torie B. experienced mild limitations in understanding,
remembering, or applying information; a mild limitation
interacting with others; mild limitations concentrating,
persisting, or maintaining pace; and no limitations adapting
or managing herself. (Tr. 19). The ALJ concluded that because
Torie B.'s anxiety caused no more than a mild limitation
in any of the functional areas it was non-severe. (Tr. 19).
three, the ALJ concluded that Torie B. 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.
20). The ALJ indicated that no treating physician or
examining physician indicated diagnostic findings that
satisfied any listed impairment. (Tr. 20). The ALJ also
considered Torie B.'s obesity in conjunction with her
severe impairments. (Tr. 20). However, the ALJ determined
that none of the listings were met. (Tr. 20).
consideration of the entire record, the ALJ then assessed
Torie B.'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) with:
occasional reaching with the right upper extremity; no
overhead reaching; never climbing ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds; occasionally climbing ramps and stairs; utilizing
a hand held assistive device for walking; occasional
stooping, crouching, kneeling, crawling; and avoiding
concentrated exposure to pulmonary irritants such as fumes,
odors, dusts, and gases.
(Tr. 20). The ALJ explained that in considering Torie
B.'s symptoms she followed a two-step process. (Tr. 21).
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 Torie B.'s pain or other symptoms. (Tr. 21). Then
she evaluated the intensity, persistence, and limiting
effects of the symptoms to determine the extent to which they
limited Torie B.'s functioning. (Tr. 21).
considering the evidence, the ALJ found that Torie B.'s
medically determinable impairments reasonably could be
expected to produce her alleged symptoms. (Tr. 21). 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. 21). The ALJ assigned little weight to the opinions of
the State agency medical consultants, treating physician Dr.
Okechi Nwabara, M.D., and the third-party function report
submitted by Torie B.'s brother. (Tr. 23).
four, the ALJ found that Torie B. was unable to perform any
past relevant work. (Tr. 23). Considering Torie B.'s age,
education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ determined that
there were jobs in the national economy that she could
perform, including rental clerk (52, 000 jobs nationally) and
sandwich board carrier (1, 300 jobs nationally). (Tr. 24).
The ALJ found that Torie B. had not been ...