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Woytsek v. Berryhill

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

February 13, 2017

DEREK T. WOYTSEK, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL[1] Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ORDER

          TIM A. BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Derek T. Woytsek appeals the Administrative Law Judge's denial of his application for Social Security benefits. Woytsek primarily argues that the ALJ erred by ignoring evidence that his impairments equal a listing. However, the evidence Woytsek points to was either relied on by the ALJ or is consistent with the ALJ's findings. For the reasons set forth below, Woytsek's brief in support of appeal [Filing No. 22] is denied and the Commissioner's decision is affirmed.

         I. Background

         On January 17, 2013, Woytsek filed an application for supplemental security income, alleging disability beginning January 28, 2012. Woytsek's application was denied initially and upon reconsideration. Woytsek requested reconsideration, attended a hearing with his attorney, and testified before an ALJ.

         The ALJ issued an opinion on November 12, 2014, concluding that Woytsek is not disabled. At step one, the ALJ found that Woytsek has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the date of the application. At step two, the ALJ found that Woytsek's severe impairments include hearing loss, asthma, obesity, borderline intellectual functioning, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, an antisocial personality disorder, an intermittent explosive disorder, marijuana dependence, and alcohol dependence. At step three, the ALJ found that Woytsek's impairments do not meet or equal a listing. At step four, the ALJ found that Woytsek has the RFC to perform a full range of work with the following limitations:

no work around dangerous moving machinery; no more than moderate noise levels as defined in the Selected Characteristics of Occupations; no more than moderate exposure to extreme heat, extreme cold, wetness, humidity, dusts, fumes, gasses or other respiratory irritants; simple routine one and two-step tasks with the ability to attend, concentrate, and persist for two hours at a time; no more than superficial interaction with coworkers or supervisors; and no interaction with the public.

[Filing No. 14-2, at ECF p. 18.]

         The ALJ found that Woytsek has no past relevant work. At step five, the ALJ relied on the testimony of a Vocational Expert to find that Woytsek is able to perform the work of a washer, counter supply worker, and garment cover bagger. The ALJ concluded Woytsek is therefore not disabled. The ALJ's decision became final when the Appeals Council denied Woytsek's request for review. This appeal followed.

         II. Standard of Review

         The Court's review of the ALJ's decision is limited to deciding whether the findings of fact are supported by substantial evidence and whether there was an error of law. Stepp v. Colvin, 795 F.3d 711, 718 (7th Cir. 2015); Roddy v. Astrue, 705 F.3d 631, 636 (7th Cir. 2013). “Substantial evidence” means “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 Court reviews the entire record but does not reweigh the evidence or resolve conflicts in the record. Stepp, 795 F.3d at 718. Nor does the Court make credibility determinations or substitute its own judgment for that of the ALJ. Young v. Barnhart, 362 F.3d 995, 1001 (7th Cir. 2004). The ALJ need not mention every bit of evidence in the record, but he must build a “logical bridge” between the evidence and her conclusions, Varga v. Colvin, 794 F.3d 809, 813 (7th Cir. 2015); Arnett v. Astrue, 676 F.3d 586, 592 (7th Cir. 2012).

         III. Discussion

         Woytsek primarily argues that the ALJ erred at step three because he failed to support his finding that Woytsek's impairments do not equal the listing for depression or personality disorder. Woytsek points to several pieces of evidence that he asserts the ALJ erroneously ignored. The Commissioner contends that the evidence does not demonstrate Woytsek's impairments equal a listing. The Court agrees with the Commissioner.

         In order to establish that Woytsek equals the listing for either depression or personality disorder, he has to show, among other criteria, that his “mental impairments result in at least two of the following problems: (1) marked restriction in activities of daily living; (2) marked difficulties in maintaining social functioning; (3) marked difficulties in maintaining concentration, persistence, and pace; or (4) repeated episodes of decompensation.” Sims v. Barnhart, 309 F.3d 424, 431 (7th Cir. 2002) (citing 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404, Subpt. P, App. 1, §§ 12.04B, 12.08B).

         The ALJ found that Woytsek's impairments do not meet or equal the listing for depression or personality disorder. [Filing No. 14-2, at ECF p. 15.] The ALJ discussed each of the four criteria and determined that Woytsek has moderate restrictions in activities of daily living, moderate difficulties in social functioning, moderate difficulties with regard to concentration, persistence, and pace, and no episodes of decompensation. [Filing No. 14-2, at ECF p. 16-17.] The ALJ found that Woytsek's mental impairments do not ...


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