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Jones v. Colvin

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana

February 16, 2017

SASHA M. JONES, Plaintiff,
v.
CAROLYN W. COLVIN, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Sasha Jones seeks judicial review of the Acting Social Security Commissioner's decision denying her supplementary security income benefits. For the reasons set forth below, the Court affirms in part, vacates in part, and remands for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         A. Overview of the Case

         Plaintiff received supplemental security income benefits as a child due to disability. In accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 1382c(a)(3)(H)(iii), her eligibility for benefits was redetermined under adult disability standards upon turning eighteen. This redetermination concluded Plaintiff was not disabled and thus ineligible for continued supplemental security income benefits. After a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), Plaintiff was again found not disabled. The Appeals Council denied her request for review, rendering the denial final agency action for purposes of judicial review. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.1481. Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), Plaintiff requests this Court to review the denial.

         B. Standard of Review

         This Court has authority to review the Commissioner's decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The Court must ensure that the ALJ has built an “accurate and logical bridge” from evidence to conclusion. Thomas v. Colvin, 745 F.3d 802, 806 (7th Cir. 2014). The Court will uphold decisions that apply the correct legal standard and are supported by substantial evidence. Briscoe ex rel. Taylor v. Barnhart, 425 F.3d 345, 351 (7th Cir. 2005). Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Craft v. Astrue, 539 F.3d 668, 673 (7th Cir. 2008).

         C. Disability Standard

         The Commissioner follows a five-step inquiry in evaluating claims for disability benefits under the Social Security Act:

(1) whether the claimant is currently employed; (2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment; (3) whether the claimant's impairment is one that the Commissioner considers conclusively disabling; (4) if the claimant does not have a conclusively disabling impairment, whether he can perform his past relevant work; and (5) whether the claimant is capable of performing any work in the national economy.

Kastner v. Astrue, 697 F.3d 642, 646 (7th Cir. 2012).

         The claimant bears the burden of proof at every step except step five. Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir. 2000).

         D. Analysis

         Plaintiff claims the ALJ erred in (1) considering limitations related to maintaining concentration, persistence, and pace; (2) determining that her back impairment was non-severe or, alternatively, that he failed to properly consider her back limitations; and (3) failing to address her headaches whatsoever.

         (1) Concentration, ...


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