United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne 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,
William M., on January 31, 2019. For the following reasons,
the decision of the Commissioner is
plaintiff, William M., filed applications for Disability
Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income on
November 30, 2015, alleging a disability onset date of March
15, 2015. (Tr. 12). The Disability Determination Bureau
denied William M.'s applications initially on February 3,
2016, and again upon reconsideration on May 17, 2016. (Tr.
12). William M. subsequently filed a timely request for a
hearing on July 2, 2016. (Tr. 12). A hearing was held on
September 15, 2017, before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
John Carlton, and the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision on
February 16, 2018. (Tr. 12-27). Vocational Expert (VE) Dale
A. Thomas appeared by telephone at the hearing. (Tr. 12). The
Appeals Council denied review making the ALJ's decision
the final decision of the Commissioner. (Tr. 1-3).
found that the date last insured was December 31, 2021. (Tr.
14). At step one of the five-step sequential analysis for
determining whether an individual is disabled, the ALJ found
that William M. had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since March 15, 2015, the alleged onset date. (Tr.
two, the ALJ determined that William M. had the following
severe impairments: substance abuse disorder,
anxiety/depression, intellectual disorder, and chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). (Tr. 15). The ALJ found
that the medically determinable impairments significantly
limited William M.'s ability to perform basic work
activities. (Tr. 15). The ALJ noted that upon clinical
examination William M. had coarse breath sounds, expiratory
wheezing, decreased breath sounds, and a cough at times. (Tr.
15). Regarding his mental function, William M. reported
alcohol misuse, anxiety, panic attacks in large groups or in
public, drug misuse, hyperactivity/persistent restlessness,
racing thoughts, sleep disturbance, sadness, depression,
trouble concentrating and focusing, fear, nervousness in
social situations, nightmares, agitation, irritability,
anger, hallucinations, paranoia, racing thoughts,
hypervigilance, and suspiciousness. (Tr. 15). The ALJ also
indicated that William M. had the following physical
conditions: back pain, right-hand pain, and an eye injury.
(Tr. 16). However, the ALJ found that these physical
impairments were non-severe because they had not existed for
twelve or more months. (Tr. 16).
three, the ALJ concluded that William 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.
16). The ALJ determined that William M.'s physical
impairments, considered singly and in combination, did not
meet or medically equal the criteria of any listed
impairment. (Tr. 17). Next, the ALJ concluded that William
M.'s mental impairments, including substance use
disorders, did not meet or medically equal the criteria of
any listed impairment. (Tr. 17). 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. 17). 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. 17).
found that William M. had moderate limitations in
understanding, remembering, or applying information; a
moderate limitation in interacting with others; marked
limitations in concentrating, persisting, or maintaining
pace; and moderate limitations adapting or managing himself.
(Tr. 17-18). Because William 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. 18). The ALJ
also determined that William M. did not satisfy the paragraph
C criteria. (Tr. 18). Furthermore, the ALJ found that William
M. did not satisfy the paragraph A criteria for listing
12.05. (Tr. 18). The ALJ noted that no State agency
psychological consultant had concluded that a mental listing
was medically equaled with the substance use. (Tr. 18).
consideration of the entire record, the ALJ then assessed
William M.'s residual functional capacity (RFC) as
[B]ased on all of the impairments, including the substance
use disorders, the claimant has the residual functional
capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20 CFR
404.1567(c) and 416.967(c) except no working at unprotected
heights, no dangerous machinery, no working outdoors or in
environments with excessive humidity, wetness, dust, odors,
fumes, or pulmonary irritants or excess heat or cold, would
be able to work in a typical office environment, limited to
simple and routine work, limited to superficial interactions
with the general public, would not be able to stay on task
more than 70% of the workday, and would be consistently
absent from work three or more days per month.
considering the evidence, the ALJ found that William M.'s
statements generally were consistent with the evidence
concerning his concentration deficits that he would be off
task and unable to consistently attend work. (Tr. 19). The
ALJ afforded significant weight to the opinion of
psychological consultative examiner, Dr. Dan Boen, Ph.D., who