United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
Jamie Anglemyer applied for social security disability
benefits, arguing that his various physical and mental
conditions combined to prevent him from maintaining any
employment. However, an administrative law judge found that
he retained the capacity to perform jobs that exist in
significant numbers, so the Commissioner denied his
application. The administrative law judge wrote a thorough
and detailed decision, but the Court finds that the decision
failed to adequately address the effects of Mr.
Anglemyer's limitations in concentration, persistence,
and pace. Accordingly, the Court reverses and remands for
Anglemyer worked for a number of years as a welder. However,
he has not worked since 2008, and he claims that his various
health conditions leave him unable to work, so he applied for
social security disability benefits. The ALJ in this case
found that he had multiple severe impairments, including
“obesity; history of left lower extremity arterial
occlusion; history of a seizure disorder; degenerative disc
disease; sleep apnea; mild arthritis of the right hand;
depression, and a personality disorder.” (R. 13). The
ALJ further found that he suffered from diabetes and chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease, but that those conditions did
not cause severe impairments. At the step three analysis, the
ALJ discussed at length whether Mr. Anglemyer met the
criteria of listing 12.04 for affective disorders. She found
that Mr. Anglemyer had “moderate” but not
“marked” difficulties in each of his activities
of daily living, his social functioning, and his
concentration, persistence, and pace, so he did not meet or
equal the listing.
therefore proceeded to evaluate Mr. Anglemyer's residual
functional capacity. She found that he was capable of
performing sedentary work, with a variety of postural and
environmental limitations. She further found that, because of
his limitations in social functioning and concentration,
persistence, and pace, Mr. Anglemyer would be limited to
performing “unskilled, ” “low stress”
work with only superficial interaction with coworkers,
supervisors, and the public, but that he “is able to
sustain and attend to task throughout the eight-hour
workday.” (R. 18). Based on the testimony of a
vocational expert, who was presented a series of
hypotheticals that included progressively more serious
limitations, the ALJ found that Mr. Anglemyer would be unable
to perform his past work, but that he could work as a
“sorter, ” “table worker, ” or
“assembler.” Accordingly, she found that he did
not qualify as disabled under the Social Security Act. The
Appeals Council denied Mr. Anglemyer's request for
review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision of
the Commissioner. Mr. Anglemyer therefore filed this action
seeking review of that decision.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
the Appeals Council denied review, the Court evaluates the
ALJ's decision as the final word of the Commissioner of
Social Security. Schomas v. Colvin, 732 F.3d 702,
707 (7th Cir. 2013). This Court will affirm the
Commissioner's findings of fact and denial of disability
benefits if they are supported by substantial evidence.
Craft v. Astrue, 539 F.3d 668, 673 (7th Cir. 2008).
Substantial evidence consists of “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales,
402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). This evidence must be “more
than a scintilla but may be less than a preponderance.”
Skinner v. Astrue, 478 F.3d 836, 841 (7th Cir.
2007). Thus, even if “reasonable minds could
differ” about the disability status of the claimant,
the Court must affirm the Commissioner's decision as long
as it is adequately supported. Elder v. Astrue, 529
F.3d 408, 413 (7th Cir. 2008).
the duty of the ALJ to weigh the evidence, resolve material
conflicts, make independent findings of fact, and dispose of
the case accordingly. Perales, 402 U.S. at 399-400.
In this substantial-evidence determination, the Court
considers the entire administrative record but does not
reweigh evidence, resolve conflicts, decide questions of
credibility, or substitute the Court's own judgment for
that of the Commissioner. Lopez ex rel. Lopez v.
Barnhart, 336 F.3d 535, 539 (7th Cir. 2003).
Nevertheless, the Court conducts a “critical review of
the evidence” before affirming the Commissioner's
decision. Id. An ALJ must evaluate both the evidence
favoring the claimant as well as the evidence favoring the
claim's rejection and may not ignore an entire line of
evidence that is contrary to his or her findings.
Zurawski v. Halter, 245 F.3d 881, 887 (7th Cir.
2001). Consequently, an ALJ's decision cannot stand if it
lacks evidentiary support or an adequate discussion of the
issues. Lopez, 336 F.3d at 539. Ultimately, while
the ALJ is not required to address every piece of evidence or
testimony presented, the ALJ must provide a “logical
bridge” between the evidence and the conclusions.
Terry v. Astrue, 580 F.3d 471, 475 (7th Cir. 2009).
benefits are available only to those individuals who can
establish disability under the terms of the Social Security
Act. Estok v. Apfel, 152 F.3d 636, 638 (7th Cir.
1998). Specifically, the claimant must be unable “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). The Social
Security regulations create a five-step sequential evaluation
process to be used in determining whether the claimant has
established a disability. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(i)-(v). The steps are to be used in the
1. Whether the claimant is currently engaged in substantial
2. Whether the claimant has a medically severe impairment;
3. Whether the claimant's impairment meets or equals one
listed in ...