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,
Tatjana E., on October 23, 2018. For the following reasons,
the decision of the Commissioner is
plaintiff, Tatjana E., filed an application for Disability
Insurance Benefits on June 10, 2015, alleging a disability
onset date of December 9, 2014. (Tr. 15). The Disability
Determination Bureau denied Tatjana E.'s application
initially on August 19, 2015, and again upon reconsideration
on January 6, 2016. (Tr. 15). Tatjana E. subsequently filed a
timely request for a hearing on January 27, 2016. (Tr. 15). A
hearing was held on September 15, 2017, before Administrative
Law Judge (ALJ) Robert Long, and the ALJ issued an
unfavorable decision on December 28, 2017. (Tr. 15-22).
Vocational Expert (VE) Mia Heikkila appeared at the hearing.
(Tr. 15). The Appeals Council denied review making the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
E. meets the insured status requirement of the Social
Security Act through June 30, 2020. (Tr. 17). At step one of
the five-step sequential analysis for determining whether an
individual is disabled, the ALJ found that Tatjana E. had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since December 9,
2014, the alleged onset date. (Tr. 17).
two, the ALJ determined that Tatjana E. had the following
severe impairments: major depressive disorder with psychotic
features, psychosis, and anxiety. (Tr. 17). The ALJ found
that the medically determinable impairments significantly
limited Tatjana E.'s ability to perform basic work
activities. (Tr. 17). Tatjana E. also alleged a disability
due to high blood pressure. (Tr. 17). However, the ALJ found
that Tatjana E.'s high blood pressure was well-controlled
and caused no more than a minimal limitation on her ability
to engage in basic work activities. (Tr. 17).
three, the ALJ concluded that Tatjana E. 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.
18). The ALJ determined that Tatjana E.'s mental
impairments, considered singly and in combination, did not
meet or medically equal the criteria in listings 12.03,
12.04, or 12.06. (Tr. 18). 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 include:
understanding, remembering, or applying information;
interacting with others; concentrating, persisting or
maintaining pace; and adapting or managing oneself.
(Tr. 18). The ALJ indicated that a marked limitation means
the ability to function independently, appropriately,
effectively, and on a sustained basis is seriously limited
and that an extreme limitation is the inability to function
independently, appropriately, or effectively, and on a
sustained basis. (Tr. 18).
concluded that Tatjana E. 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.
18). Because Tatjana E.'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. 18).
Additionally, the ALJ determined that Tatjana E. did not
satisfy the paragraph C criteria. (Tr. 18).
consideration of the entire record, the ALJ then assessed
Tatjana E.'s residual functional capacity (RFC) as
[T]he claimant has no physical limitations, but, due to
concentration deficits secondary to mental impairments and
fatigue, should not perform work that involves an hourly or
less quota requirement. Furthermore, she is limited to work
with no contact with the public and only occasional
interaction with supervisors and coworkers.
(Tr. 19). The ALJ explained that in considering Tatjana
E.'s symptoms he followed a two-step process. (Tr. 19).
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 Tatjana E.'s pain or other symptoms. (Tr. 19).
Then he evaluated the intensity, persistence, and limiting
effects of the symptoms to determine the extent to which they
limited Tatjana E.'s functioning. (Tr. 19).
E. alleged that she was disabled, in part, because of her
depression and anxiety. (Tr. 19). The ALJ found that after
considering the evidence Tatjana E.'s medically
determinable impairments reasonably could be expected to
produce her alleged symptoms. (Tr. 19). 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. 19). The ALJ considered the opinions of the State agency
consultants who found that Tatjana E.'s mental
impairments were non-severe. (Tr. 20). However, the ALJ
concluded that the opinions were entitled ...