United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
ANGELA M. CRAWFORD, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
R. CHERRY MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by
Plaintiff Angela M. Crawford on February 9, 2016, and
Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Reversing the Decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security [DE 14], filed on June
15, 2016. The Commissioner filed a response on September 20,
2016, and Plaintiff filed a reply on October 5, 2016.
first filed for supplemental security income on June 22,
2012. Her claim was denied initially and on reconsideration.
Plaintiff then asked for a hearing before one of the
Agency's administrative law judges (ALJs), which took
place on August 7, 2014, before ALJ Mario G. Silva. The ALJ
held a supplemental video hearing on September 5, 2014.
Plaintiff's main representative was attorney Thomas J.
Scully, but she was represented by Scully's associate
Veda P. Dasari at the hearings.
issued a written decision on September 11, 2014, concluding
that Plaintiff was not disabled based on the following
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since June 22, 2012, the application date.
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: status
post fracture of the pelvis, right ankle, and coccyx,
degenerative joint disease of the right hip, degenerative
disc disease of the lumbar spine, and depression.
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform less than sedentary work as
defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a). Specifically, the claimant can
frequently lift up to twenty pounds, frequently carry ten
pounds, and occasionally carry twenty [pounds]. The claimant
is able to sit, stand, or walk for one hour [at a] time. The
claimant is able to sit for six hours, stand for one hour,
and walk for one hour in [an] eight-hour workday. The
claimant is able to reach in all directions, including
overhead, as well [as] handle and finger on a frequent basis
bilaterally. The claimant can occasionally push and pull. The
claimant can never operate foot controls with her right foot
but can occasionally operate foot control[s] with her left
foot. The claimant never [sic] climb ladders, ramps, or
scaffolds and never crawl, but can occasionally climb ramps
and stairs as well as balance, stoop, kneel or crouch. The
claimant must avoid all exposure to unprotected height to
unprotected heights [sic] and dangerous moving machinery. The
claimant is limited to occasional exposure to fumes and
pulmonary irritants. The claimant is limited to no more than
occasional exposure to heat or cold. The claimant must avoid
all exposure to vibrations. The claimant is limited to
occasional exposure to wetness and humidity. The claimant is
limited to unskilled work and is able to understand or
remember simple instructions and make judgment on simple work
related decisions and is able to interact appropriately with
coworkers and supervisors on routine work stetting [sic]. The
claimant is able to respond to usual situations and to
changes in routine work setting. The claimant must be allowed
to work at a flexible pace, free of fast paced production
requirements. The claimant's work must not require tandem
tasks or teamwork, where one production step is dependent
upon a prior step.
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
6. The claimant was born [in 1966] and was 45 years old,
which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the
date the application was filed [sic]. The claimant
subsequently changed age category to a younger individual age
7. The claimant has a limited education and is able to
communicate in English.
8. Transferability of job skills is not material to the
determination of disability because using the
Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding
that the claimant is “not disabiled, ” whether or
not the claimant has transferable job skills.
9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that the claimant can perform.
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, since June 22, 2012, the date the
application was filed.
46-55). Plaintiff then sought review before the Agency's
Appeals Council, which denied her request on December 16,
2015, leaving the ALJ's decision as the final decision of
the Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.1481. On
February 9, 2016, Plaintiff filed this civil action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. §§ 405(g) and 1383(c)(3) for review of
the Agency's decision.
parties filed forms of consent to have this case assigned to
a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further
proceedings and to order the entry of a final judgment in
this case. This Court thus has jurisdiction to decide this
case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and 42 U.S.C. §
Social Security Act authorizes judicial review of the final
decision of the agency and indicates that the
Commissioner's factual findings must be accepted as
conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). Thus, a court reviewing the findings of an ALJ
will reverse only if the findings are not supported by
substantial evidence or if the ALJ has applied an erroneous
legal standard. See Briscoe v. Barnhart, 425 F.3d
345, 351 (7th Cir. 2005). Substantial evidence consists of
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Schmidt v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d 737, 744 (7th Cir.
2005) (quoting Gudgel v. Barnhart, 345 F.3d 467, 470
(7th Cir. 2003)).
reviews the entire administrative record but does not
reconsider facts, re-weigh the evidence, resolve conflicts in
evidence, or substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ.
See Boiles v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d 421, 425 (7th Cir.
2005); Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 869 (7th
Cir. 2000); Butera v. Apfel, 173 F.3d 1049, 1055
(7th Cir. 1999). Thus, the question upon judicial review of
an ALJ's finding that a claimant is not disabled within
the meaning of the Social Security Act is not whether the
claimant is, in fact, disabled, but whether the ALJ
“uses the correct legal standards and the decision is
supported by substantial evidence.” Roddy v.
Astrue, 705 F.3d 631, 636 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing
O'Connor-Spinner v. Astrue, 627 F.3d 614, 618
(7th Cir. 2010); Prochaska v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d
731, 734-35 (7th Cir. 2006); Barnett v. Barnhart,
381 F.3d 664, 668 (7th Cir. 2004)). “[I]f the
Commissioner commits an error of law, ” the Court may
reverse the decision “without regard to the volume of
evidence in support of the factual findings.” White
v. Apfel, 167 F.3d 369, 373 (7th Cir. 1999) (citing
Binion v. Chater, 108 F.3d 780, 782 (7th Cir.
minimum, an ALJ must articulate his analysis of the evidence
in order to allow the reviewing court to trace the path of
his reasoning and to be assured that the ALJ considered the
important evidence. See Scott v. Barnhart, 297 F.3d
589, 595 (7th Cir. 2002); Diaz v. Chater, 55 F.3d
300, 307 (7th Cir. 1995); Green v. Shalala, 51 F.3d
96, 101 (7th Cir. 1995). An ALJ must “‘build an
accurate and logical bridge from the evidence to [the]
conclusion' so that [a reviewing court] may assess the
validity of the agency's final decision and afford [a
claimant] meaningful review.” Giles v. Astrue,
483 F.3d 483, 487 (7th Cir. 2007) (quoting Scott,
297 F.3d at 595)); see also O'Connor-Spinner,
627 F.3d at 618 (“An ALJ need not specifically address
every piece of evidence, but must provide a ‘logical