United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
LORRI A. SMITH, Plaintiff,
NANCY BERRYHILL,  Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
ENTRY REVIEWING THE COMMISSIONER'S
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge.
17, 2013, Plaintiff Lorri A. Smith filed a claim for
disability insurance benefits under the Social Security Act
("SSA") alleging a disability onset date of June 4,
2013. [Filing No. 14 at 23.] Ms. Smith filed a claim for
supplemental security income under the SSA on June 26, 2013
also alleging a disability onset date of June 4, 2013.
[Filing No. 14 at 23.] Her claims were denied initially on
October 8, 2013 and upon reconsideration on December 3, 2013.
[Filing No. 14 at 23.] Administrative Law Judge Kimberly
Sorg-Graves ("ALJ") held a hearing on January 21,
2015. [Filing No. 14 at 23.] On February 3, 2015, the ALJ
issued a decision determining that Ms. Smith was not disabled
as defined by the SSA. [Filing No. 14 at 30.] The Appeals
Council denied Ms. Smith's request for review on June 24,
2016, making the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's
final decision subject to judicial review. [Filing No. 14 at
5.] Ms. Smith filed this civil action on August 22, 2016
seeking judicial review under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and 42
U.S.C. § 1383(c), asking the Court to review her denial
of benefits. [Filing No. 1.]
Social Security Act authorizes payment of disability
insurance benefits and Supplemental Security Income to
individuals with disabilities." Barnhartv.
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, the
Court's role is limited to ensuring that the ALJ applied
the correct legal standards and that substantial evidence
exists for the ALTs 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),
the 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
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 her 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, [she] will
automatically be found disabled. If a claimant satisfies
steps one and two, but not three, then [she] 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, 55F.3d309, 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 her 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
Smith was 53 years old at the time she applied for social
security disability benefits.[FilingNo. 14 at 187.] She has
completed 2 years of college. [Filing No. 14 at 206.]
Herprevious work experience includes working as a bus driver,
billing clerk, and life insurance salesperson. [Filing No. 14
at 212-217.] Using the five-step sequential evaluation set
forth by the Social Security Administration in 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a)(4), the ALJ ultimately concluded that Ms.
Smith is not disabled. [Filing No. 14 at 30.] The ALJ found
• At Step One of the analysis, the ALJ found that Ms.
Smith had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since
her alleged ...