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Curry v. Colvin

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

August 3, 2015

JACOB CURRY, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.


WILLIAM T. LAWRENCE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Jacob Curry requests judicial review of the final decision of the Defendant, Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration ("the Commissioner"), denying his applications for Disability Insurance Benefits ("DIB") and Supplemental Security Insurance Benefits ("SSI") under Titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act ("the Act"). The Court, having reviewed the record and the briefs of the parties, rules as follows.


Disability is defined as "the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable mental or physical impairment which can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least twelve months." 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). In order to be found disabled, a claimant must demonstrate that his physical or mental limitations prevent him from doing not only his previous work, but any other kind of gainful employment which exists in the national economy, considering his age, education, and work experience. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A).

In determining whether a claimant is disabled, the Commissioner employs a five-step sequential analysis. At step one, if the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity he is not disabled, despite his medical condition and other factors. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(b).[1] At step two, if the claimant does not have a "severe" impairment (i.e., one that significantly limits his ability to perform basic work activities), he is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c). At step three, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant's impairment or combination of impairments meets or medically equals any impairment that appears in the Listing of Impairments, 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, App. 1, and whether the impairment meets the twelve-month duration requirement; if so, the claimant is deemed disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(d). At step four, if the claimant is able to perform his past relevant work, he is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(f). At step five, if the claimant can perform any other work in the national economy, he is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(g).

In reviewing the ALJ's decision, the ALJ's findings of fact are conclusive and must be upheld by this court "so long as substantial evidence supports them and no error of law occurred." Dixon v. Massanari, 270 F.3d 1171, 1176 (7th Cir. 2001). "Substantial evidence means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, " id., and this court may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ. Overman v. Astrue, 546 F.3d 456, 462 (7th Cir. 2008). The ALJ is required to articulate only a minimal, but legitimate, justification for her acceptance or rejection of specific evidence of disability. Scheck v. Barnhart, 357 F.3d 697, 700 (7th Cir. 2004). In order to be affirmed, the ALJ must articulate her analysis of the evidence in her decision; while she "is not required to address every piece of evidence or testimony, " she must "provide some glimpse into her reasoning... [and] build an accurate and logical bridge from the evidence to her conclusion." Dixon, 270 F.3d at 1176.


Jacob Curry filed for DIB and SSI on December 15, 2011, alleging he became disabled on February 15, 2010. His application was denied initially on February 8, 2012, and again upon reconsideration on April 2, 2012. Following the denial upon reconsideration, Curry requested and received a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"). A hearing, during which Curry was represented by counsel, was held on April 4, 2013. Also present at the hearing were Dr. Don A. Olive, a medical expert, and Gail K. Corn, a vocational expert. ALJ Belinda Brown issued her decision denying Curry's application on April 25, 2013, and the Appeals Council denied Curry's request for review on June 10, 2014. After the Appeals Council denied review of the ALJ's decision, Curry filed this timely appeal.


The ALJ determined at step one that Curry had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since February 15, 2010, the alleged onset date. At steps two and three, the ALJ concluded that Curry had the severe impairments of "post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD, ' personality disorder, and depression, " R. at 14, but that his impairments, singly or in combination, did not meet or medically equal a listed impairment. At step four, the ALJ determined that Curry had the residual functional capacity ("RFC")

To perform a full range of work at all exertional levels with the following nonexertional limitations: the claimant is limited to performing simple, routine, and repetitive tasks that require no production rate. He is able to make simple workrelated decisions. The claimant must have only occasional contact with supervisors and co-workers and no contact with the general public.

Id. at 17. Given that RFC, the ALJ determined that Curry could not perform any of his past relevant work. Finally, at step five, considering Curry's age, education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ determined that Curry could perform a range of work that exists in the national economy. Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that Curry was not disabled as defined by the Act.


The medical evidence of record is aptly set forth in Curry's brief (Dkt. No. 14) and need not be recited here. Specific facts are set forth in the discussion section below ...

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