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.

Lander v. Berryhill

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

July 7, 2017

JOSEPH L. LANDER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          ENTRY REVIEWING THE COMMISSIONER'S DECISION

          Hon. Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge

         Plaintiff Joseph Lander applied for disability insurance benefits from the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) on November 2, 2012, alleging an onset date of May 29, 2012. [Filing No. 14-6 at 2.] His application was denied initially on March 5, 2012, [Filing No. 14-4 at 4], and upon reconsideration on June 14, 2013, [Filing No. 14-4 at 24]. Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) David Welch held a hearing on November 14, 2014, [Filing No. 14-2 at 35], and issued a decision on January 30, 2015, concluding that Mr. Lander was not entitled to receive benefits, [Filing No. 14-2 at 12-26]. The Appeals Council denied review on July 15, 2016, [Filing No. 14-2 at 2], rendering the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner of the SSA (the “Commissioner”), [Filing No. 14-2 at 12-26]. Mr. Lander then filed this civil action under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), requesting that the Court review the Commissioner's decision. [Filing No. 1.]

         I.

         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. 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 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).

         II.

         Background

         Mr. Lander was born in 1976, [Filing No. 14-6 at 8], has obtained a GED, [Filing No. 14-2 at 43], and has previous work experience as a welder, shipping and receiving clerk, material handler, and overhead crane operator, [Filing No. 14-2 at 24].[1] 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 January 30, 2015, determining that Mr. Lander was not entitled to receive disability benefits. [Filing No. 14-2 at 12-26.] The ALJ found as follows:

• At Step One of the analysis, the ALJ found that Mr. Lander had not engaged in substantial gainful activity[2] since the alleged onset date. [Filing No. 14-2 at 14.]
• At Step Two of the analysis, the ALJ found that Mr. Lander suffered from the following severe impairments: “Chronic heart failure, cardiomyopathy, post cardiac defibrillator implantation; [t]ransient ischemic attack, historically; [c]ardiac arrhythmias, including Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome and left bundle branch block; and [m]ajor ...

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.