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, Amy
S., on September 6, 2018. For the following reasons, the
decision of the Commissioner is REMANDED.
plaintiff, Amy S., filed an application for Supplemental
Security Income on May 8, 2015, alleging a disability onset
date of May 6, 2015. (Tr. 18). The Disability Determination
Bureau denied Amy S.'s application initially on July 23,
2015, and again upon reconsideration on September 11, 2015.
(Tr. 18). Amy S. subsequently filed a timely request for a
hearing on November 6, 2015. (Tr. 18). Amy S. failed to
attend the initial hearing scheduled for January 17, 2017.
(Tr. 18). After a Notice to Show Cause was sent to Amy S. and
she responded, another hearing was scheduled. (Tr. 18). A
video hearing was held on June 16, 2017, before
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Diane S. Davis, and the ALJ
issued an unfavorable decision on November 9, 2017. (Tr.
18-35). Vocational Expert (VE) Pamela Tucker appeared at the
hearing. (Tr. 18). The Appeals Council denied review making
the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. (Tr. 1-3).
one of the five-step sequential analysis for determining
whether an individual is disabled, the ALJ found that Amy S.
had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 8,
2015, her application date. (Tr. 20).
two, the ALJ determined that Amy S. had the following severe
impairments: lumbar spondylosis, psychogenic non-epileptic
seizure disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. (Tr. 21). The ALJ
found that the above medically determinable impairments
significantly limited Amy S.'s ability to perform basic
work activities. (Tr. 21). Amy S. also alleged disability due
to May-Thurner syndrome, insomnia, and rheumatoid arthritis.
(Tr. 21). However, the ALJ found that Amy S.'s
May-Thurner syndrome and insomnia caused no more than a
minimal limitation on her ability to engage in basic work
activities and were non-severe impairments. (Tr. 21-22).
Furthermore, the ALJ determined that Amy S.'s rheumatoid
arthritis was not a medically determinable impairment. (Tr.
three, the ALJ concluded that Amy S. 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.
23). The ALJ stated that no medical evidence indicated
diagnostic findings that satisfied any listed impairment.
(Tr. 23). The ALJ considered Amy S.'s mental impairments,
singly and in combination, against the criteria in listings
12.02, 12.06, 12.07, and 12.15. (Tr. 23). 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 themselves.
(Tr. 23). 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. 23).
determined that Amy S. had moderate 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 in adapting or managing herself.
(Tr. 23-24). Because Amy S.'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. 25).
Additionally, the ALJ determined that Amy S. did not satisfy
the paragraph C criteria. (Tr. 25).
consideration of the entire record, the ALJ then assessed Amy
S.'s residual functional capacity (RFC) as follows:
[T]he claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform LIGHT work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b). The
claimant can lift and/or carry 20 pounds occasionally and ten
pounds frequently. She can sit for about six hours total in
an eight-hour workday. She can never climb ladders, ropes,
and scaffolds, or work at unprotected heights. She should
also avoid exposure to dangerous moving machinery. The
claimant can understand, remember, and carry out simple,
routine tasks, make simple, work-related decisions, and adapt
to routine workplace changes. She can work in proximity to
others and tolerate occasional interaction with supervisors
and coworkers, and brief, incidental contact with the public.
She can persist in such activities, with adequate pace and
(Tr. 25). The ALJ explained that in considering Amy S.'s
symptoms she followed a two-step process. (Tr. 26). 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 Amy
S.'s pain or other symptoms. (Tr. 26). Then she evaluated
the intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of the
symptoms to determine the extent to which they limited Amy
S.'s functioning. (Tr. 26).
considering the evidence, the ALJ found that Amy S.'s
medically determinable impairments reasonably could be
expected to produce her alleged symptoms. (Tr. 26). 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. 26-27). The ALJ assigned some weight to the state
physical evaluators, little weight to the state psychological
evaluators, little weight to the treating neurologist, Dr.
Julian Ungar-Sargon, and little weight to the third-party
reports of her mother (Kathleen Mears), her best friend