United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
an action for judicial review of the final decision of
Defendant Commissioner of Social Security
(“Commissioner”) finding Plaintiff Gerald Reed
not entitled to Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) pursuant to the Social Security Act
(“the Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), from March
4, 2011 through September 11, 2014. The Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) denied Plaintiff's application
for DIB and SSI after concluding that Plaintiff was not
disabled and that he could perform past relevant work. This
case was referred to Magistrate Judge Baker for a report and
recommendation, which he issued on January 20, 2017, holding
that the Commissioner's decision was supported by
substantial evidence. This cause is now before us on
Plaintiff's Objections to the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation.
Gerald Reed, at the time of his administrative hearing, was
46 years old. Plaintiff is a chiropractor (practicing from
February 2007 through his alleged onset date of March 4,
2011). He has also held jobs as an auto salesperson, teacher,
claim for disability benefits relates primarily to back and
hip problems and pain stemming from to a 1986 car accident in
which Plaintiff's pelvis, femur, and left patella were
fractured. On August 2, 2011, Plaintiff underwent a total hip
arthroplasty. According to his medical records, by September
12, 2011, Plaintiff's progress was
“wonderful” and he was very happy with the
results of the surgery.
medical records reveal a 7-month gap following September 12,
2011. On April 9, 2012, he returned to the orthopedic clinic
complaining of lower back pain with radiating pain in his
legs. Based on the findings of a CT scan and his doctor's
recommendation, Plaintiff opted for back surgery, which was
conducted on June 6, 2012. As compared to his preoperative
state, Plaintiff's symptoms of radiculopathy and back
pain improved so that, in July 2012, his surgeon determined
that he was healing at a satisfactory rate, although
Plaintiff was still using the assistance of crutches to walk.
August of 2012, Plaintiff moved from Illinois to Indiana. Dr.
Travis Richardson, Plaintiff's treating orthopedist,
wrote a letter on Plaintiff's behalf opining that
Plaintiff was unable to maintain a full-time job and that he
met the criteria for Social Security disability. Dr.
Richardson stated that Plaintiff “had a multilevel
spine fusion decompression of [his] lumbar spine” and
that his use of narcotics and pain medications would affect
his judgment. Dr. Richardson explained that Plaintiff suffers
from chronic hip pain following his total hip arthroplasty
and that he has experienced a loss in range of motion in his
hip and back.
January 29, 2013, as part of Plaintiff's disability
application process, Dr. Ami Rice examined Plaintiff and
concluded that the clinical evidence did not support the need
for an ambulatory aid. She noted that Plaintiff had
tenderness along his back, had limited motion in his left hip
and ankle and lumbar spine, but had full ranges of motion in
his upper extremities and no radiating back pain.
claims for benefits were denied initially on February 11,
2013, and upon reconsideration on March 7, 2013. Plaintiff
requested and received an administrative hearing, which was
held on May 13, 2013, at which he testified. The ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff retained the residual functional
capacity to perform light work, with certain exceptions, and
that he was capable of performing his past relevant work as a
salesperson, teacher, chemist, and auto salesperson.
Plaintiff appealed the ALJ decision in this action,
contending that the ALJ's decision was in error on four
grounds: the ALJ selectively reviewed the evidence of his
back impairments; the ALJ improperly evaluated Dr.
Richardson's opinion; the ALJ erred in analyzing
Plaintiff's credibility; and the ALJ improperly
prohibited Plaintiff from testifying about the physiology of
parties appeared before Magistrate Judge Tim Baker on
December 20, 2016 for oral argument in connection with this
appeal of the ALJ's conclusions, on the basis of which,
the Magistrate Judge issued a Report and Recommendation that
affirmed the ALJ's decision. Plaintiff then filed
objections to the Report and Recommendation on February 3,
2017, which we address below.
review the Commissioner's denial of benefits to determine
whether it was supported by substantial evidence or is the
result of an error of law. Rice v. Barnhart, 384
F.3d 363, 368-69 (7th Cir. 2004); Lopez ex rel. Lopez v.
Barnhart, 336 F.3d 535, 539 (7th Cir. 2003).
“Substantial evidence means such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Dixon v. Massanari, 270 F.3d
1171, 1176 (7th Cir. 2001). In our review of the ALJ's
decision, we will not “reweigh evidence, resolve
conflicts, decide questions of credibility, or substitute our
own judgment for that of the Commissioner.”
Lopez, 336 F.3d at 539. However, the ALJ's
decision must be based upon consideration of “all the
relevant evidence, ” without ignoring probative
factors. Herron v. Shalala, 19 F.3d 329, 333 (7th
Cir. 1994). In other words, the ALJ must “build an
accurate and logical bridge” from the evidence in the
record to his or her final conclusion. Dixon, 270
F.3d at 1176. We confine the scope of our review to the
rationale offered by the ALJ. See SEC v. Chenery
Corp., 318 U.S. 80, 93-95 (1943); Tumminaro v.
Astrue, 671 F.3d 629, 632 (7th Cir. 2011).
party raises specific objections to elements of a magistrate
judge's report and recommendation, the district court
reviews those elements de novo, determining for
itself whether the Commissioner's decision as to those
issues is supported by substantial evidence or was the result
of an error of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). The district court
“makes the ultimate decision to adopt, reject, or
modify” the report and recommendation, and it need not
accept any portion as binding; the court may, however, defer
to those conclusions of the report and ...