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.

Seals v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

June 5, 2017

Eddie Seals, Plaintiff,
v.
Nancy Berryhill, [1] Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ENTRY REVIEWING THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge.

         Plaintiff Eddie Seals applied for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income from the Social Security Administration ("SSA") on May 16, 2011, alleging an onset date of July 15, 2010. [Filing No. 10-5 at 2-14.] His applications were initially denied on July 5, 2011, [Filing No. 10-4 at 2-9], and upon reconsideration on September 8, 2011, [Filing No. 10-4 at 15-28]. Administrative Law Judge Ronald T. Jordan (the "ALJ") held a hearing on August 29, 2012, [Filing No. 10-2 at 28-63], and issued a decision on September 25, 2012, concluding that Mr. Seals was not entitled to receive disability insurance benefits or supplemental security income, [Filing No. 10-2 at 11-23]. The Appeals Council denied review on February 20, 2014. [Filing No. 10-2 at 2-4.] Mr. Seals then filed a civil action, asking the Court to review the denial of benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c). [Filing No. 10-16 at 3.] On November 14, 2015, the Court adopted the Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation and reversed and remanded the Commissioner's Decision. [Filing No. 10-16 at 2-13.] The ALJ held a second hearing on February 25, 2016, [Filing No. 10-15 at 33-71], and issued a decision on March 25, 2016, once again concluding that Mr. Seals was not entitled to receive disability insurance benefits or supplemental security income, [Filing No. 10-15 at2-23]. On July 25, 2016, Mr. Seals timely filed this civil action, asking the Court to review the denial of benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and42U.S.C. § 1383(c). [Filing No. 1.]

         II.

         Standard of Review

         "The 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.

         When an 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. Barnettv. Barnhart, 381 F.3d 664, 668 (7th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). For the purpose of judicial review, "[substantial 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 omitted).

         The ALJ must apply the five-step inquiry set forth in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i)-(v), evaluating the following, in sequence:

(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 economy.

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).

         After Step Three, but before Step Four, the ALJ must determine a claimant's residual functional capacity ("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. See 20 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.

         If the 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 omitted).

         III.

         Background

         Mr. Seals was twenty seven years old when he filed for disability insurance benefits and supplemental security income. [Filing No. 10-5 at 2-14.] He has previous work experience as a fast food manager and a cashier. [Filing No. 10-2 at 33-38.][2] Using the five-step sequential evaluation set forth by the SSA in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4), the ALJ issued an opinion on March 25, 2016, determining that Mr. Seals was not entitled to receive disability insurance benefits or supplemental security income. [Filing No. 10-15 at 2-23.] The ALJ found as follows:

• At Step One of the analysis, the ALJ found that Mr. Seals had not engaged in substantial gainful activity[3] since July 15, 2010, the alleged ...

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.