United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
MICHAEL H. POTYSMAN, Plaintiff,
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
LOZANO, JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
matter is before the Court for review of the Commissioner of
Social Security's decision denying Disability Insurance
Benefits and Supplemental Security Income to Plaintiff
Michael H. Potysman. For the reasons set forth below, the
decision of the Commissioner is REVERSED and this case is
REMANDED to the Social Security Administration for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion pursuant to sentence
four of 42 U.S.C. section 405(g).
March 2011, Plaintiff Michael H. Potysman
(“Potysman”) filed an application for Social
Security Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”)
under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. section
401 et seq., and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security
Act, 42 U.S.C. section 1381, et. seq. Potysman
alleged that his disability began on April 10, 2010. The
Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denied his
initial applications and also denied his claims upon
requested a hearing, and on October 31, 2012, Potysman
appeared with his attorney at an administration hearing
before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) David R.
Bruce. Testimony was provided by Potysman and vocational
expert Richard T. Fisher. On November 29, 2012, the ALJ
issued a decision denying Potysman's claim, finding him
not disabled because he could perform his past relevant work
as a security guard and house officer, despite the additional
limitations which erode his light occupational base. (Tr.
requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ's
decision, but that request was denied. Accordingly, the
ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final
decision. See 20 C.F.R. § 422.210(a). Potysman
has initiated the instant action for judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
was born in November 1956 and was 53 years old on the alleged
disability onset date of April 10, 2010. (Tr. 32.) He
completed the eighth grade and did not acquire his GED. (Tr.
34.) His past relevant work includes employment as a security
guard, stock clerk, house officer/detective, commercial
cleaner and corrugator operator helper. (Tr. 62-63.) Potysman
alleges the following impairments: hepatitis C, degenerative
disc disease of the lumbar spine, depression, anxiety,
attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
(“ADHD”), and obesity. (DE #21 at 2.) The medical
evidence is largely undisputed and has been set forth in
detail in both the ALJ's decision and Potysman's
opening brief. There is no reason to repeat it in detail
here, although pertinent details are discussed below as
of Commissioner's Decision
Court has authority to review the Commissioner's decision
to deny social security benefits. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
“The findings of the Commissioner of Social Security as
to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be
conclusive.” Id. Substantial evidence is
defined as “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct.
1420, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (1971) (citation omitted). In
determining whether substantial evidence exists, the Court
shall examine the record in its entirety, but shall not
substitute its own opinion for the ALJ's by reconsidering
the facts or reweighing the evidence. See Jens v.
Barnhart, 347 F.3d 209, 212 (7th Cir. 2003). While a
decision denying benefits need not address every piece of
evidence, the ALJ must provide a “logical bridge”
between the evidence and his conclusion that the claimant is
not disabled. Terry v. Astrue, 580 F.3d 471, 475
(7th Cir. 2009).
threshold matter, for a claimant to be eligible for DIB or
SSI benefits under the Social Security Act, the claimant must
establish that he is disabled. 42 U.S.C. §§
423(d)(1)(A) and 1382(a)(1). To qualify as being disabled,
the claimant must be unable “to engage in any
substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be
expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12
months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). To determine
whether a claimant has satisfied this statutory definition,
the ALJ performs a five-step evaluation:
Step 1: Is the claimant performing substantially gainful
activity? If yes, the claim is disallowed; if no, the inquiry
proceeds to Step 2.
Step 2: Is the claimant's impairment or combination of
impairments “severe” and expected to last at
least twelve months? If not, the claim is disallowed; if ...