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Watkins v. Colvin

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

August 30, 2016

ANTHONY D. WATKINS, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER

          Tim A. Baker United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff 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.

         II. Background

         Watkins 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.]

         At step 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 p. 15.]

         At step 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

         and the 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.

         III. Standard of Review

         The 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).

         IV. ...


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