United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
Daniel W. Burton, Plaintiff,
Nancy Berryhill,  Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant. No. 1:16-cv-01270-JMS-MJD
ENTRY REVIEWING THE COMMISSIONER'S
JANE MAGNUS-STINSON, CHIEF JUDGE
April 25, 2013, Daniel W. Burton filed a claim for disability
insurance benefits alleging a disability onset date of
February 10, 2013. [Filing No. 13-2 at 26.] His
claim was initially denied on August 6, 2013, and upon
reconsideration on September 17, 2013. A hearing was held on
October 24, 2014 before Administrative Law Judge Mary F.
Withum (the “ALJ”). [Filing No.
13-2 at 37-65.] The ALJ issued a decision on January 7, 2015,
determining that Mr. Burton was not disabled as defined by
the Social Security Act. [Filing No. 13-2 at 26-32.]
The Appeals Council denied his request for review on April
11, 2016, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of
the Commissioner subject to judicial review. [Filing
No. 13-2 at 2-7.] Mr. Burton then filed this civil
action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), asking this Court to
review his denial of benefits.
Social Security Act authorizes payment of disability
insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income to
individuals with disabilities.” Barnhart v.
Walton, 535 U.S. 212, 214 (2002). “The statutory
definition of ‘disability' has two parts. First, it
requires a certain kind of inability, namely, an inability to
engage in any substantial gainful activity. Second it
requires an impairment, namely, a physical or mental
impairment, which provides reason for the inability. The
statute adds that the impairment must be one that has lasted
or can be expected to last . . . not less than 12
months.” Id. at 217.
applicant appeals an adverse benefits decision, this
Court's role is limited to ensuring that the ALJ applied
the correct legal standards and that substantial evidence
exists for the ALJ's decision. Barnett v.
Barnhart, 381 F.3d 664, 668 (7th Cir. 2004) (citation
omitted). For the purpose of judicial review,
“[s]ubstantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id. (quotation omitted). Because
the ALJ “is in the best position to determine the
credibility of witnesses, ” Craft v. Astrue,
539 F.3d 668, 678 (7th Cir. 2008), this Court must afford the
ALJ's credibility determination “considerable
deference, ” overturning it only if it is
“patently wrong, ” Prochaska v.
Barnhart, 454 F.3d 731, 738 (7th Cir. 2006) (quotations
must apply the five-step inquiry set forth in 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i)-(v), evaluating the following, in
(1) whether the claimant is currently [un]employed; (2)
whether the claimant has a severe impairment; (3) whether the
claimant's impairment meets or equals one of the
impairments listed by the [Commissioner]; (4) whether the
claimant can perform his past work; and (5) whether the
claimant is capable of performing work in the national
Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir. 2000)
(citations omitted) (alterations in original). “If a
claimant satisfies steps one, two, and three, [he] will
automatically be found disabled. If a claimant satisfies
steps one and two, but not three, then [he] must satisfy step
four. Once step four is satisfied, the burden shifts to the
SSA to establish that the claimant is capable of performing
work in the national economy.” Knight v.
Chater, 55 F.3d 309, 313 (7th Cir. 1995).
Step Three, but before Step Four, the ALJ must determine a
claimant's RFC by evaluating “all limitations that
arise from medically determinable impairments, even those
that are not severe.” Villano v. Astrue, 556
F.3d 558, 563 (7th Cir. 2009). In doing so, the ALJ
“may not dismiss a line of evidence contrary to the
ruling.” Id.The ALJ uses the RFC at Step Four
to determine whether the claimant can perform his own past
relevant work and if not, at Step Five to determine whether
the claimant can perform other work. See20 C.F.R.
§§ 416.920(e)(g). The burden of proof is on the
claimant for Steps One through Four; only at Step Five does
the burden shift to the Commissioner. Clifford, 227
F.3d at 868.
ALJ committed no legal error and substantial evidence exists
to support the ALJ's decision, the Court must affirm the
denial of benefits. Barnett, 381 F.3d at 668. When
an ALJ's decision is not supported by substantial
evidence, a remand for further proceedings is typically the
appropriate remedy. Briscoe ex rel. Taylor v.
Barnhart, 425 F.3d 345, 355 (7th Cir. 2005). An award of
benefits “is appropriate only where all factual issues
have been resolved and the record can yield but one
supportable conclusion.” Id. (citation
Burton was 53 years old at the time of the hearing before the
[Filing No. 13-5 at 2; Filing No. 13-2 at
26.] He finished the eleventh grade and earned a GED.
[Filing No. 13-2 at 42.] His previous work
experience includes working as a foreman, supervisor, and
maintenance technician. [Filing No. 13-2 at 42.] Mr.
Burton seeks disability benefits because of functional
limitations due to degenerative disc disease, plantar
fasciitis, kidney disease, and osteoarthritis. [Filing
No. 13-2 at 40.]
the five-step sequential evaluation set forth by the Social
Security Administration in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4),
the ALJ ultimately concluded that Mr. Burton is not ...