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Mapes v. Berryhill

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

July 18, 2017

MICHELL MAPES, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Defendant.

          ENTRY ON JUDICIAL REVIEW

          Mark J. Dinsmore United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Michell Mapes (“Mapes”) requests judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration (“Commissioner”) denying her application for Social Security Disability Insurance (“DIB”) under Title II and for Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”). See 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423(d), 1382c(a)(3). For the reasons set forth below, the Court REVERSES the decision of the Commissioner and REMANDS Mapes's application to the SSA for further proceedings.

         I. Background

         In April 2013, Michell Mapes protectively filed applications for DIB and SSI, alleging disability beginning April 29, 2013. [Dkt. 14-5 at 2-16 (R. 187-201).] Mapes's application listed lupus and immune deficiency as her disabling conditions.[1] [Dkt. 14-6 at 6 (R. 219).] Mapes's applications were denied initially on July 2, 2013 [Dkt. 14-4 at 2-9 (R. 112-19)] and upon reconsideration on October 17, 2013. [Dkt. 14-4 at 11-16 (R. 120-126).] Administrative Law Judge Kimberly Sorg-Graves (“ALJ”) held a hearing on Mapes's application in March 2015. [Dkt. 14-2 at 43-74 (R. 42-73).] On July 20, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision finding that Mapes was not disabled. [Dkt. 14-2 at 24-37 (R. 23-36).] The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on October 24, 2016 [Dkt. 14-2 at 2-7 (R. 1-6)], making the ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner. Mapes timely filed her complaint in this Court, seeking judicial review of the Commissioner's decision. [Dkt. 1.]

         II. Legal Standard

         To be eligible for DIB or SSI, a claimant must have a disability pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423. Disability is defined as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).

         To determine whether a claimant is disabled, the ALJ employs a five-step sequential analysis: (1) if the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity, she is not disabled; (2) if the claimant does not have a “severe” impairment, or one that significantly limits her ability to perform basic work activities, she is not disabled; (3) if the claimant's impairment or combination of impairments meets or medically equals any impairment appearing in the Listing of Impairments, 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, App. 1, the claimant is disabled; (4) if the claimant is not found to be disabled at step three and she is able to perform her past relevant work, she is not disabled; and (5) if the claimant is not found to be disabled at step three and either cannot perform her past relevant work or has no past relevant work but can perform certain other available work, she is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. Before proceeding from step three to step four, the ALJ must assess the claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC), identifying the claimant's functional limitations and assessing the claimant's remaining capacity for work related activities. S.S.R. 96-8p, 1996 WL 374184.

         The ALJ's findings of fact are conclusive and must be upheld by this Court “so long as substantial evidence supports them and no error of law occurred.” Dixon v. Massanari, 270 F.3d 1171, 1176 (7th Cir. 2001). “Substantial evidence means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Id. The Court may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ but may only determine whether substantial evidence supports the ALJ's conclusion. Overman v. Astrue, 546 F.2d 456, 462 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing Schmidt v. Apfel, 201 F.3d 970, 972 (7th Cir. 2000); Skinner v. Astrue, 478 F.3d 836, 841 (7th Cir. 2007)). The ALJ “need not contain a complete written evaluation of every piece of evidence.” McKinzey v. Astrue, 641 F.3d 884, 891 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Schmidt v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d 737, 744 (7th Cir. 2005)). However, the “ALJ's decision must be based upon consideration of all the relevant evidence.” Herron v. Shalala, 19 F.3d 329, 333 (7th Cir. 1997). To be affirmed, the ALJ must articulate her analysis of the evidence in her decision. The ALJ must “provide some glimpse into his reasoning” and “build an accurate and logical bridge from the evidence to his conclusion.” Dixon, 270 F.3d at 1176. Scope of review is confined to the rationale offered by the ALJ. See SEC v. Chenery Corp., 318 U.S. 80, 93-95 (1943); Parker v. Astrue, 597 F.3d 920, 922 (7th Cir. 2010).

         III. The ALJ's Decision

         The ALJ first determined that Mapes met the insured status requirement of the Act through December 31, 2015 and did not engage in substantial gainful activity since December 15, 2012. [Dkt. 14-2 at 26 (R. 25).] At step two, the ALJ found Mapes's severe impairments to include “lupus, osteoarthritis, depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder.” [Dkt. 14-2 at 26 (R. 25).] At step three, the ALJ found that Mapes did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals a Listing. [Dkt. 14-2 at 27-29 (R. 26-28).]

         Before step four, “[a]fter careful consideration of the entire record, ” the ALJ determined that Mapes had the RFC to perform sedentary work with the following specific restrictions: “[Mapes] can no more than frequently finger; is limited to simple repetitive work tasks without a strict production rate; no more than occasional changes in the work setting; at least superficial supervision or oversight as much as once or twice per shift.” [Dkt. 14-2 at 29 (R. 28).] At step four, the ALJ found that Mapes was unable to perform her past relevant work as a punch press operator and hand painter. [Dkt. 14-2 at 35 (R. 34).] After considering Mapes's age, education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ found that Huffman could perform several jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy. [Dkt. 14-2 at 36 (R. 35).] These jobs included document preparer, printed circuit board assembly screener, and food and beverage order clerk. [Dkt. 14-2 at 36 (R. 35).] Based on these findings, the ALJ concluded that Mapes was not disabled under the Act. [Dkt. 14-2 at 37 (R. 36).]

         IV. Discussion

         Mapes makes three arguments as to why the decision of the Commissioner should be reversed. First, Mapes argues that the ALJ erred when she found that Mapes's impairments did not meet Listing 14.02. Second, Mapes argues that the ALJ's credibility finding was patently wrong because she equated providing child care to the ability to sustain work activity. Third, Mapes argues that the ALJ failed to account for difficulties in concentration, persistence, or pace in her hypothetical RFC assessment. The Court addresses each argument in turn.

         A. Listing 14.02

         Mapes argues that the ALJ impermissibly found that Mapes's Systemic Lupus Erythematosus[2] (“SLE”) did not meet or equal Listing 14.02.[3] Specifically, Mapes argues that the ALJ ran afoul of the treating physician rule by discrediting Dr. Flaugher's opinion that Mapes meets Listing 14.02. [Dk ...


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