Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Duvall v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, New Albany Division

March 8, 2017

JEFFREY DUVALL, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ENTRY OVERRULING PLAINTIFF'S OBJECTION AND ADOPTING MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

          TANYA WALTON PRATT, JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Jeffrey Duvall (“Duvall”) requested judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“the Commissioner”), denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 423(d) (“the Act”). On October 13, 2016, the Court referred Duvall's request to the Magistrate Judge. Thereafter, the Magistrate Judge issued her Report and Recommendation wherein she recommended that the Commissioner's final decision be affirmed. (Filing No. 24.)

         Duvall now objects to the recommendation. (Filing No. 25.) For the following reasons, the Court OVERRULES Duvall's Objection and ADOPTS the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation.

         BACKGROUND[[1]]

         On March 28, 2013, Duvall, who was fifty-three years old on his alleged disability onset date, protectively filed an application for DIB, alleging a disability onset date of August 8, 2012. (Filing No. 12-2 at 23.) His claims were initially denied on June 28, 2013, and again on reconsideration on October 3, 2013. Id. Duvall filed a written request for a hearing on November 20, 2013. Id. On April 22, 2015, a hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge William C. Zuber (“the ALJ”). Id. Duvall was present and represented by counsel, Richard R. Fox. Id. A vocational expert, Sharon B. Lane (“the VE”) also appeared and testified at the hearing. Id. On July 14, 2015, the ALJ denied Duvall's application for DIB. Id. at 36. Following this decision, Duvall timely requested review by the Appeals Council. Id. at 9-19. On November 18, 2015, the Appeals Council denied Duvall's request for review of the ALJ's decision, thereby making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner for purposes of judicial review. Id. at 2-8. On January 8, 2016, Duvall filed an action for judicial review of the ALJ's decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). (Filing No. 1.) On October 13, 2016, the Court referred the matter to Magistrate Judge Debra McVicker Lynch. On February 1, 2017, the Magistrate Judge filed her Report and Recommendation (Filing No. 24) to which Duvall filed a timely objection. (Filing No. 25.)

         I. LEGAL STANDARD

         “A district court may assign dispositive motions to a magistrate judge, in which case the magistrate judge may submit to the district judge only a report and recommended disposition, including any proposed findings of fact.” Schur v. L.A. Weight Loss Ctrs., Inc., 577 F.3d 752, 760 (7th Cir. 2009) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)). “The magistrate judge's recommendation on a dispositive matter is not a final order, and the district judge makes the ultimate decision to adopt, reject, or modify it.” Schur, 577 F.3d at 760 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3)). After a magistrate judge makes a report and recommendation, either party may object within fourteen days. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2). “A judge of the court shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made” with respect to dispositive motions. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). Further, a judge “may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate judge.” Id.

         II. DISABILITY AND STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under the Act, a claimant may be entitled to Supplemental Security Income or DIB only after he establishes that he is disabled. 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). In order to be found disabled, a claimant must demonstrate that his physical or mental limitations prevent him from doing not only his previous work but any other kind of gainful employment which exists in the national economy, considering his age, education, and work experience. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(A).

         The Commissioner employs a five-step sequential analysis to determine whether a claimant is disabled. At step one, if the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity, he is not disabled despite his medical condition and other factors. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(i). At step two, if the claimant does not have a “severe” impairment that meets the durational requirement, he is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(ii). A severe impairment is one that “significantly limits [a claimant's] physical or mental ability to do basic work activities.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c). At step three, the Commissioner determines whether the claimant's impairment or combination of impairments meets or medically equals any impairment that appears in the Listing of Impairments, 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1, and whether the impairment meets the twelve month duration requirement; if so, the claimant is deemed disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(iii).

         If the claimant's impairments do not meet or medically equal one of the impairments on the Listing of Impairments, then his residual functional capacity will be assessed and used for the fourth and fifth steps. Residual functional capacity (“RFC”) is the “maximum that a claimant can still do despite his mental and physical limitations.” Craft v. Astrue, 539 F.3d 668, 675-76 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing 20 C.F.R. § 404.1545(a)(1); SSR 96-8p). At step four, if the claimant is able to perform his past relevant work, he is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4)(iv). At the fifth and final step, it must be determined whether the claimant can perform any other work in the relevant economy, given his RFC and considering his age, education, and past work experience. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(v). The claimant is not disabled if he can perform any other work in the relevant economy.

         The combined effect of all the impairments of the claimant shall be considered throughout the disability determination process. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(B). The burden of proof is on the claimant for the first four steps; it then shifts to the Commissioner for the fifth step. Young v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 957 F.2d 386, 389 (7th Cir. 1992).

         Section 405(g) of the Act gives the court “power to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, with or without remanding the cause for a rehearing.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). In reviewing the ALJ's decision, this Court must uphold the ALJ's findings of fact if the findings are supported by substantial evidence 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. Further, this Court may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ. Overman v. Astrue, 546 F.3d 456, 462 (7th Cir. 2008). While the Court reviews the ALJ's decision deferentially, the Court cannot uphold an ALJ's decision if the decision “fails to mention highly pertinent evidence, . . . or that because of contradictions or missing premises fails to build a logical bridge between the facts of the case and the outcome.” Parker v. Astrue, 597 F.3d 920, 921 (7th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted).

         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). 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). The ALJ is required to articulate only a minimal, but legitimate, justification for her ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.