United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY REVIEWING THE COMMISSIONER'S
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge.
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
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. 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).
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 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.
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
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.] 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 since July 15, 2010, the alleged ...