Filing 31

ENTRY ON ORAL ARGUMENT - Following the argument, the Court issued the appended findings. For the reasons expressed therein, the Court AFFIRMS the Commissioner's decision. Final judgment shall enter in favor of Commissioner. SEE ORDER. Signed by Magistrate Judge Matthew P. Brookman on 9/5/2017. (Attachments: # 1 Judge's Findings)(JRB)

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1 1 THE COURT: We're back in the matter of Trina Marie 2 Myers versus Nancy Berryhill, the acting commissioner for the 3 Social Security Administration. 4 oral arguments and I'm prepared to render an opinion on the 5 record now. 6 The parties have made their Just by way of background or kind of setting things 7 up, plaintiff argues here legal error regarding the 8 application of the regulations to the residual functioning 9 capacity. Does not seek remand for further proceedings but a 10 remand to award benefits. 11 filed an application for disability insurance benefits and 12 supplemental security income in March of 2012. 13 disability beginning November 2008 due to previous 14 applications -- I'm sorry. 15 application was denied initially and on review, a hearing was 16 requested and held and the ALJ denied plaintiff's application. 17 The appeals counsel denied review, making the ALJ's decision 18 the final decision in this matter. 19 And by way of background, plaintiff Strike that. She alleged After her At Step 2, the ALJ found that plaintiff's severe 20 impairments were degenerative joint disease in the right knee, 21 obesity, bipolar disorder, depressive disorder, anxiety 22 disorder, and a history of substance abuse. 23 or in combination, these impairments, nor plaintiff's 24 nonsevere impairments, were not found to meet the listings. 25 The ALJ's residual functional capacity was as follows, and I'm Considered singly 2 1 2 quoting here directly. Light work is defined in 20 Code of Federal 3 Regulations 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b). 4 and carrying up to 20 pounds occasionally or less than 20 5 pounds frequently; sitting six hours in an eight-hour workday; 6 standing and/or walking for at least two hours in an 7 eight-hour workday; no climbing ladders, ropes or scaffolds; 8 no exposure to unprotected heights; occasional bending, 9 stooping, kneeling, balancing and climbing of stairs; work This includes lifting 10 that is unskilled in nature, such that it involves only simple 11 and repetitive tasks; only occasional contact with the public 12 or peers; work that is regular in expectations; and work that 13 does not involve fast-paced tasks or factor-like tasks. 14 At Step 4 the ALJ found Ms. Myers was able to 15 perform past relevant work as a house cleaner. 16 in a finding of no disability and there was no Step 5 analysis 17 conducted as a result of that. 18 This resulted Now, this Court reviews the commissioner's decision 19 to determine if it, as a whole, is supported by substantial 20 evidence and whether the commissioner has employed the correct 21 legal standards. 22 capable of the residual function capacity to perform light 23 work as defined by the regulations; and in particular, we're 24 talking about 20 C.F.R. 404.1567(b), including and relevant to 25 this appeal, standing and/or walking for at least two hours in The ALJ in this case found the claimant 3 1 an eight-hour workday. 2 legal error for the ALJ to find her standing and/or walking 3 was limited to two hours a day and that she could still do 4 light work. 5 Plaintiff here contends that it was The regulations, however, provide in relevant part 6 that light work requires a good deal of walking or standing 7 and Social Security Ruling 83-10 further provides light work 8 includes frequent lifting or carrying. 9 being on one's feet up to two-thirds of a workday. This necessitates Thus, a 10 full range -- and I quote, a "full range" of light work 11 requires standing or walking off and on for a total of 12 approximately six hours of an eight-hour workday. 13 A plain reading of these regulations does not 14 support the contention that light work must equate to the 15 ability to stand or walk for one-third or two-thirds of a 16 workday. 17 light work requires up to two-thirds of a workday standing or 18 walking. 19 might still be light work. 20 some or even most light work requires the ability to stand or 21 walk for a third to two-thirds of the day, it does not 22 necessarily mean that plaintiff's past relevant work of a 23 housekeeper required the full range of light work. 24 that's what's important in this case. 25 The ruling only makes it clear that a full range of Does not say that something less than a full range Importantly, where it may be that I think And here an impartial medical expert, Dr. Besen, 4 1 testified as to the plaintiff's physical impairments. 2 no contesting his findings, including the standing/walking 3 capabilities where his testimony was consistent with the 4 claimant was capable of walking/standing at least two hours of 5 an eight-hour workday, and that's at the transcript pages 76 6 through 77. 7 There's The vocational expert was present for the 8 examination. 9 on the limitations alluded to by Dr. Besen, could the During the VE's testimony, the ALJ asked, based 10 plaintiff perform past relevant work either as she performed 11 it or as it's generally performed in the state or national 12 economy. 13 cleaner/housekeeper would be available. 14 The VE testified that based on that hypothetical, The ALJ then downgraded the hypothetical to that of 15 a sedentary, to which the VE responded that it would no longer 16 be available. 17 aligned with Dr. Besen's testimony; and in fact, plaintiff 18 doesn't object that the ALJ's RFC is not supported by 19 substantial evidence. 20 someone capable of light work position based on the 21 walking/standing restrictions that were included in the RFC. 22 But the VE's testimony, of course discounts that argument. 23 In his decision the ALJ adopted and RFC that Just that it was legal error to find This case is -- the Court has looked at Johnson v. 24 Barnhart, 2014 Westlaw case 1427118 out of the Northern 25 District of Illinois. This case is distinguishable, I 5 1 believe, from Johnson v. Barnhart. 2 District remanded -- Northern District of Illinois remanded 3 where the ALJ's RFC, which he charactered as light work, yet 4 limited the plaintiff to two hours standing/sitting. 5 important to note that that was a Step 5 finding that the 6 claimant could complete light work jobs. 7 There, the Northern But it's In Johnson, the Court relied on Medical-Vocation 8 Guidelines instead of employing a vocational expert. 9 important because when an RFC does not coincide with a full This is 10 range of a category of work, such as here where the 11 plaintiff's RFC did not fully align with either light work or 12 sedentary work, it's appropriate to employ the vocational 13 expert. 14 416 F.3d 621, a 7th Circuit case from 2005. And that was expressly stated in Haynes v. Barnhart, 15 The VE then considered the plaintiff's past relevant 16 work as to the specific limitations provided from the medical 17 expert's testimony. 18 claimant was unable to perform past relevant work and instead 19 said that although the plaintiff could stand/walk at least two 20 hours, he could perform a significant range of light work at 21 Step 5. 22 talk talking about Step 4 analysis here. Also, the ALJ in Johnson found that the Again, this is Step 5 analysis in Johnson and we're 23 Here it appears the ALJ did not identify specific 24 jobs in Step 5, a point the Court took issue with and noted -- 25 I'm sorry. In Johnson, the ALJ did not identify specific jobs 6 1 in Step 5 and that was a point the Court took issue with and 2 noted that's what necessitated the remand there. 3 In sum, this case is not akin to Johnson. The 4 regulations and rulings do not support plaintiff's arguments 5 that plaintiff's sit/stand limitations ruled out all light 6 work jobs, particularly plaintiff's past relevant work which 7 the VE testified based on limitations and impairments, she was 8 still capable of performing. 9 was not legal error. In that context I find that that For these reasons the Court affirms the 10 decision of the ALJ in this matter. 11 record that you wish to make today? 12 13 MR. STAGGS: THE COURT: 18 Ms. Cohn, any further record that on the commissioner would like to make at this time? 16 17 No further record at this time. Thank you, Your Honor. 14 15 No. Mr. Staggs, any further MS. COHN: No, not at this time. Thank you, Your Honor. THE COURT: Thank you all. I appreciate the 19 arguments today. 20 will get the appropriate docket entries on the docket just as 21 soon as we can. 22 23 24 25 I appreciate your work on the briefs. Otherwise, we'll be in recess. We Thank you.

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