United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ANTHONY D. WATKINS, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
Baker United States Magistrate Judge
Anthony D. Watkins appeals the Administrative Law Judge's
denial of his application for Social Security benefits.
Watkins argues that the ALJ erred because he ignored all
evidence demonstrating Watkins is disabled. For the reasons
set forth below, Watkins' brief in support of appeal
[Filing No. 23] is denied and the Commissioner's
decision is affirmed.
applied for disability insurance benefits and supplemental
security income, alleging disability beginning February 22,
2008. His applications were denied initially and upon
reconsideration. On April 26, 2013, Watkins testified at a
hearing before an ALJ. The ALJ found Watkins is not disabled
and denied the application. Watkins appealed the denial to
the district court, which found error and remanded the case
back to the ALJ. On March 24, 2015, the ALJ held a new
hearing, at which Watkins appeared with counsel and
testified. The ALJ issued a new decision on April 24, 2015,
again finding Watkins is not disabled. [Filing No. 13-2, at
ECF p. 33.]
one, the ALJ found that Watkins had no substantial gainful
activity during the relevant time period. [Filing No. 13-2,
at p. 14.] At step two, the ALJ found that Watkins'
severe impairments included degenerative disc disease of the
cervical and lumbar spine, hypertension, coronary artery
disease with a history of myocardial infarction, obesity,
major depressive disorder, anxiety, borderline intellectual
functioning, and a history of substance abuse and alcohol
dependence. [Id.] At step three, the ALJ found that
Watkins did not meet or equal a listing. [Filing No. 13-2, at
four, the ALJ found Watkins had the RFC to perform light work
with the following physical limitations:
the claimant can lift and carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10
pounds frequently; sit for two hours at one time and a total
of six hours per eight-hour workday; stand for 30 minutes to
one hour at one time and up to a total of three hours per
eight-hour workday; walk 15 to 30 minutes at one time and up
to a total of three hours per eight-hour workday; frequently
perform overhead reaching; frequently use the upper
extremities, bilaterally; occasionally climb stairs; never
climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; occasionally balance,
stoop, and kneel; never crouch or crawl; no exposure to
extreme cold or extreme heat
following mental limitations:
[t]he claimant is limited to simple routine, repetitive
tasks, in a work environment free of fast-paced production
requirements; simple work-related decisions not requiring
complex thought processes; infrequent public contact; and
only occasional contact with coworkers and supervisors.
[Filing No. 13-2, at ECF p. 18.] The ALJ found Watkins was
unable to perform his past relevant work as a tractor trailer
truck driver, tank truck driver, box truck driver, or general
laborer in the trucking industry. At step five, the ALJ
relied on a vocational expert's testimony to conclude
that Watkins is not disabled because he can perform the jobs
of a collator operator, router, or lens inserter. [Filing No.
13-2, at ECF p. 31.] The ALJ's decision became final when
the Appeals Council denied Watkins' request for review.
This appeal followed.
Standard of Review
Court must uphold the ALJ's decision if substantial
evidence supports his findings. Terry v. Astrue, 580
F.3d 471, 475 (7th Cir. 2009). “The substantial
evidence standard requires no more than such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Moore v. Colvin, 743
F.3d 1118, 1120 (7th Cir. 2014). The ALJ is obliged to
consider all relevant medical evidence and cannot simply
cherry-pick facts that support a finding of nondisability
while ignoring evidence that points to a disability finding.
Denton v. Astrue, 596 F.3d 419, 425 (7th Cir. 2010).
If evidence contradicts the ALJ's conclusions, the ALJ
must confront that evidence and explain why it was rejected.
Moore, 743 F.3d at 1123. The ALJ, however, need not
mention every piece of evidence, so long as he builds a
logical bridge from the evidence to his conclusion.
Pepper v. Colvin, 712 F.3d 351, 362 (7th Cir. 2013).