United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
DERRICK E. BELL, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
ENTRY ON JUDICIAL REVIEW
William T. Lawrence, Judge.
Derrick E. Bell requests judicial review of the final
decision of Defendant Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner
of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”), denying Mr. Bell's
application 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, now
rules as follows.
Bell filed for DIB and SSI on April 20, 2012, alleging he
became disabled on December 1, 2010, due to degenerative disc
disease. Mr. Bell's application was denied initially on
February 10, 2012, and again upon reconsideration on
September 20, 2012. Following the denial upon
reconsideration, Mr. Bell requested and received a hearing in
front of an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”).
That hearing, during which Mr. Bell was represented by
counsel, was held on September 12, 2013, before ALJ Belinda
J. Brown. The ALJ issued her decision on December 19, 2013,
denying Mr. Bell's claim. Mr. Bell requested review by
the Appeals Council, and the Appeals Council upheld the
hearing decision on March 30, 2015, and denied the request
for review. Mr. Bell then filed this timely appeal.
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. §
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. § 416.920(a)(4)(i). 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.
§ 416.920(a)(4)(ii). 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 twelvemonth duration requirement; if so, the
claimant is deemed disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
416.920(a)(4)(iii). At step four, if the claimant is able to
perform his past relevant work, he is not disabled. 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.920(a)(4)(iv). At step five, if the claimant can
perform any other work in the national economy, he is not
disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(v).
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) (citation
omitted). 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, ” he must
“provide some glimpse into [his] reasoning . . . [and]
build an accurate and logical bridge from the evidence to
[his] conclusion.” Dixon, 270 F.3d at 1176
ALJ BROWN'S DECISION
Brown determined at step one that Mr. Bell had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since December 1, 2010, the
alleged onset date. R. at 18. At steps two and three, the ALJ
concluded that Mr. Bell had the severe impairment of
degenerative disc disease. Id. At step four, the ALJ
determined that Mr. Bell had the following residual
functional capacity (“RFC”):
[H]e is able to sit for six hours in an eight-hour work day,
stand for one hour in an eight-hour work day, and walk for
one hour in an eight-hour work day. He can occasionally
balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, and climb ramps,
stairs. He can never climb ladders or scaffolds.
22. The ALJ also determined that Mr. Bell was unable to
perform any past relevant work.
23. Instead, she determined that Mr. Bell was able to perform
a limited range of sedentary work, R. at 22, in positions
existing in significant numbers in the national economy, R.
at 24. Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that Mr. Bell was not
disabled as defined by the Act.