United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
LARRY D. SCHALL, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM C. LEE, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT.
matter is before the court for judicial review of a final
decision of the defendant Commissioner of Social Security
Administration denying Plaintiff's application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) as provided for in the
Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. §416(I). Section 205(g)
of the Act provides, inter alia, "[a]s part of his
answer, the [Commissioner] shall file a certified copy of the
transcript of the record including the evidence upon which
the findings and decision complained of are based. The court
shall have the power to enter, upon the pleadings and
transcript of the record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or
reversing the decision of the [Commissioner], with or without
remanding the case for a rehearing." It also provides,
"[t]he findings of the [Commissioner] as to any fact, if
supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive. . .
." 42 U.S.C. §405(g).
provides that an applicant for disability insurance benefits
must establish an "inability to engage in any
substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12
months. . . ." 42 U.S.C. §416(i)(1); 42 U.S.C.
§423(d)(1)(A). A physical or mental impairment is
"an impairment that results from anatomical,
physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are
demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory
diagnostic techniques." 42 U.S.C. §423(d)(3). It is
not enough for a plaintiff to establish that an impairment
exists. It must be shown that the impairment is severe enough
to preclude the plaintiff from engaging in substantial
gainful activity. Gotshaw v. Ribicoff, 307 F.2d 840
(7th Cir. 1962), cert. denied, 372 U.S. 945 (1963);
Garcia v. Califano, 463 F.Supp. 1098 (N.D.Ill.
1979). It is well established that the burden of proving
entitlement to disability insurance benefits is on the
plaintiff. See Jeralds v. Richardson, 445 F.2d 36
(7th Cir. 1971); Kutchman v. Cohen, 425 F.2d 20 (7th
the foregoing framework, "[t]he question before [this
court] is whether the record as a whole contains substantial
evidence to support the [Commissioner's] findings."
Garfield v. Schweiker, 732 F.2d 605, 607 (7th Cir.
1984) citing Whitney v. Schweiker, 695 F.2d 784, 786
(7th Cir. 1982); 42 U.S.C. §405(g). "Substantial
evidence is defined as 'more than a mere scintilla. It
means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'"
Rhoderick v. Heckler, 737 F.2d 714, 715 (7th Cir.
1984) quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389,
401, 91 S.Ct. 1410, 1427 (1971); see Allen v.
Weinberger, 552 F.2d 781, 784 (7th Cir. 1977). "If
the record contains such support [it] must [be] affirmed, 42
U.S.C. §405(g), unless there has been an error of
law." Garfield, supra at 607; see also
Schnoll v. Harris, 636 F.2d 1146, 1150 (7th Cir. 1980).
present matter, after consideration of the entire record, the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) made the
1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act on December 31, 2011.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful
activity during the period from his alleged onset date of
November 5, 2010 through his date last insured of December
31, 2011 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the
following severe impairment: Parkinson's disease (20 CFR
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR
404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find
that, through the date last insured, the claimant had the
residual functional capacity to perform the full range of
medium work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(c), specifically
lifting and/or carrying 50 pounds occasionally, 25 pounds
frequently; standing and/or walking 6 hours in an 8-hour
workday; and sitting 6 hours in an 8-hour workday.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was capable of
performing past relevant work as a warehouse supervisor. This
work did not require the performance of work-related
activities precluded by the claimant's residual
functional capacity (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the
Social Security Act, at any time from November 5, 2010, the
alleged onset date, through December 31, 2011, the date last
insured (20 CFR 404.1520(f)).
upon these findings, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was
not entitled to disability insurance benefits. The ALJ's
decision became the final agency decision when the Appeals
Council denied review. This appeal followed.
filed his opening brief on May 23, 2016 On August 30, 2016,
the defendant filed a memorandum in support of the
Commissioner's decision, and on September 16, 2016,
Plaintiff filed his reply. Upon full review of the record in
this cause, this court is of the view that the ALJ's
decision should be remanded.
step test has been established to determine whether a
claimant is disabled. See Singleton v. Bowen, 841
F.2d 710, 711 (7th Cir. 1988); Bowen v. Yuckert, 107
S.Ct. 2287, 2290-91 (1987). The United States Court of
Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has summarized that test as
The following steps are addressed in order: (1) Is the
claimant presently unemployed? (2) Is the claimant's
impairment "severe"? (3) Does the impairment meet
or exceed one of a list of specific impairments? (4) Is the
claimant unable to perform his or her former occupation? (5)
Is the claimant unable to perform any other work within the
economy? An affirmative answer leads either to the next step
or, on steps 3 and 5, to a finding that the claimant is
disabled. A negative answer at any point, other than step 3,
stops the inquiry and leads to a determination that the
claimant is not disabled.
Nelson v. Bowen, 855 F.2d 503, 504 n.2 (7th Cir.
1988); Zalewski v. Heckler, 760 F.2d 160, 162 n.2
(7th Cir. 1985); accord Halvorsen v. Heckler, 743
F.2d 1221 (7th Cir. 1984). From the nature of the ALJ's
decision to deny benefits, it is clear that step four was the
protectively filed a Title II application for a period of
disability and disability insurance benefits on July 30, 2012
alleging disability beginning February 29, 2012. (A.R. at
224). The Disability Determination Bureau (DDB) denied the
Plaintiff's claims on April 24, 2012. Id. at
113. Plaintiff requested reconsideration, but was again
denied on July 23, 2012. Id. at 114. Plaintiff filed
a request for an administrative hearing on August 2, 2012.
Id. On August 23, 2013 and September 20, 2013
Plaintiff appeared via video conference in Elkhart, Indiana
before ALJ Patricia Melvin of the Fort Wayne, Indiana Office
of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). Id. at
78-112 and 36-77. On February 10, 2014, ALJ Melvin issued a
partially favorable decision, finding that Plaintiff was not
disabled since his alleged onset date but became disabled on
July 10, 2013 due in part to Parkinson's disease.
Id. at 115-128. Plaintiff filed a request for review
by the Appeals Council of the Office of Disability