United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY REVIEWING THE COMMISSIONER'S
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
Teresa Kay Chapel filed for supplemental security income and
disability insurance benefits on April 8, 2013, alleging a
disability onset date of September 28, 2012. [Filing No. 7-5
at 2.] Her applications were denied initially and upon
reconsideration, [Filing No. 7-4 at 4; Filing No. 7-4 at 14],
and Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Terry Miller
held a hearing on December 4, 2014, [Filing No. 7-2 at 49].
On February 3, 2015, the ALJ issued an opinion concluding
that Ms. Chapel was not disabled as defined by the Social
Security Act. [Filing No. 7-2 at 19-36.] The Appeals Council
denied review on May 12, 2016, [Filing No. 7-2 at 2], making
the ALJ's decision the Commissioner's final decision
subject to judicial review, [Filing No. 7-2 at 19-36]. Ms.
Chapel filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
405(g), asking this 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.” 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 to support the ALJ's decision. Barnett v.
Barnhart, 381 F.3d 664, 668 (7th Cir. 2004) (citation
omitted). For the purpose of judicial review,
“[s]ubstantial 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
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, 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 her own past
relevant work and if not, at Step Five to determine whether
the claimant can perform other work. See20 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 omitted).
Chapel was fifty-one years old at the time she applied for
social security benefits. [Filing No. 7-5 at 2.] She has a
high school diploma and completed some college, [Filing No.
7-2 at 57], and has performed past ...