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Davis v. Colvin

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

December 27, 2016

RYAN E. DAVIS, Plaintiff,


          Mark J. Dinsmore Judge.

         Ryan E. Davis (“Davis”) requests judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”) denying his application for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”). See 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423(d), 1382c(a)(3)(A). For the reasons set forth below, the Magistrate Judge recommends that the District Judge AFFIRM the decision of the Commissioner.[1]

         I. Background

         Davis filed an application for DIB on May 8, 2013, and an application for SSI on May, 15, 2013. [Dkt. 13-2 at 11.] In both applications, Davis alleged an onset of disability date of January 1, 2007. Id. Davis alleges disability due to depression, anxiety, schizoaffective disorder, and related mental impairments.[2] [Dkt. 13-2 at 14.] Davis's applications were initially denied on August 20, 2013, and denied again on October 24, 2013, upon reconsideration. [Dkt. 13-2 at 11.] Davis timely filed a written request for a hearing, which was held on July 10, 2014, before Administrative Law Judge Julia D. Gibbs (“ALJ”). [Id.] The ALJ issued a decision on September 9, 2014, again denying Davis's applications for DIB and SSI. [Dkt. 13-2 at 8.] On September 4, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Davis's request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision for purposes of judicial review. [Dkt. 13-2 at 2.] Davis timely filed his Complaint with this Court on October 31, 2015, which Complaint is now before the Court.

         II. Legal Standard

         To be eligible for DIB or SSI, a claimant must have a disability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423.[3] Disability is defined as the “inability 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 is disabled, the Commissioner, as represented by the ALJ, employs a five-step sequential analysis: (1) if the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity, he is not disabled; (2) if the claimant does not have a “severe” impairment, one that significantly limits his ability to perform basic work activities, he is not disabled; (3) if the claimant's impairment or combination of impairments meets or medically equals any impairment appearing in the Listing of Impairments, 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpart P, App. 1, the claimant is disabled; (4) if the claimant is not found to be disabled at step three and he is able to perform his past relevant work, he is not disabled; and (5) if the claimant is not found to be disabled at step three and cannot perform his past relevant work but he can perform certain other available work, he is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. Before proceeding from step three to step four, the ALJ must assess the claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC), identifying the claimant's functional limitations and assessing the claimant's remaining capacity for work-related activities. S.S.R. 96-8p.

         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.This Court may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ but may only determine whether substantial evidence supports the ALJ's conclusion. Overman v. Astrue, 546 F.3d 456, 462 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing Schmidt v. Apfel, 201 F.3d 970, 972 (7th Cir. 2000); Skinner v. Astrue, 478 F.3d 836, 841 (7th Cir. 2007)). The ALJ “need not evaluate in writing every piece of testimony and evidence submitted.” Carlson v. Shalala, 999 F.2d 180, 181 (7th Cir. 1993) (citing Stephens v. Heckler, 766 F.2d 284, 287 (7th Cir. 1985); Zblewski v. Schweiker, 732 F.2d 75, 79 (7th Cir. 1984)). However, the “ALJ's decision must be based upon consideration of all the relevant evidence.” Herron v. Shalala, 19 F.3d 329, 333 (7th Cir. 1994). To be affirmed, the ALJ must articulate his analysis of the evidence in his decision; while he “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.

         III. The ALJ's Decision

         The ALJ first determined that Davis has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since January 1, 2007, the alleged onset date. [Dkt. 13-2 at 13.] At step two, the ALJ determined that Davis “has the following severe impairments: schizoaffective disorder, depression, anxiety, and polysubstance abuse.” Id. However, at step three, the ALJ found that Davis does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals a listed impairment. [Dkt. 13-2 at 14.] In making this determination, the ALJ considered Listings 12.03, 12.04, 12.06, and 12.09 for Davis's impairments, but found that the medical evidence did not support all criteria of those listings. Id.

         The ALJ next analyzed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity (“RFC”). She concluded that Plaintiff had the RFC to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels with the following non-exertional limitations:

[H]e is limited to work that does not require interaction contact with the general public or crowds, or more than superficial contact with coworkers and supervisors.

[Dkt. 13-2 at 16] In finding these limitations, the ALJ considered Davis's “symptoms and the extent to which these symptoms can reasonably be accepted as consistent with the objective medical evidence and other evidence.” Id. The ALJ then acknowledged that the evidence presented could reasonably show that Davis suffers from the symptoms he alleges, but she found his statements “not entirely credible.” [Dkt. 13-2 at 17.] At step four, the ALJ determined that Davis had no past relevant work. The ALJ thus proceeded to step five, at which time she received testimony from the vocational expert indicating that someone with Plaintiff's education, work experience, age, and RFC would be able to perform jobs such as dishwasher, hand packager, and laundry laborer. Because these jobs existed in significant numbers in the national economy, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled. [Dkt. 13-2 at 21.]

         IV. ...

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