United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ANTHONY B. CAGE, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Defendant.
ENTRY ON JUDICIAL REVIEW
J. DINSMORE, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
B. Cage (“Cage”) requests judicial review of the
final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“Commissioner”) denying his
application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and 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)(A). For the reasons
set forth below, the Commissioner's decision is
REVERSED AND REMANDED.
filed applications for DIB and SSI on June 28, 2013, alleging
an onset of disability date of May 8, 2012. [Dkt. 14-2 at
16.] Cage alleges disability due to diabetes, peripheral
neuropathy, left shoulder dysfunction, obesity, blindness in
the left eye, and depression. [Dkt. 14-2 at 18.] Cage's
application was initially denied on September 13, 2013, and
denied again on December 11, 2013, upon reconsideration.
[Dkt. 14-2 at 16.] Cage timely filed a written request for a
hearing, which was held on April 17, 2015, before
Administrative Law Judge Kimberly Sorg-Graves.
(“ALJ”). Id. The ALJ issued a decision
on June 23, 2015, again denying Cage's applications for
SSI. [Dkt. 14-2 at 13.] On September 8, 2016, the Appeals
Council denied Cage's request for review, making the
ALJ's decision the final decision for purposes of
judicial review. [Dkt. 14-2 at 1.] Cage timely filed his
Complaint with this Court on November 2, 2016, which
Complaint is now before the Court.
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. §
determine whether a claimant is disabled, the Commissioner,
as represented by the ALJ, employs a five-step sequential
analysis: (1) if the claimant is engaged in substantial
gainful activity, he is not disabled; (2) if the claimant
does not have a “severe” impairment, one that
significantly limits his ability to perform basic work
activities, he 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, subpart P, App. 1, the
claimant is disabled; (4) if the claimant is not found to be
disabled at step three and he is able to perform her past
relevant work, he is not disabled; and (5) if the claimant is
not found to be disabled at step three and cannot perform his
past relevant work but he can perform certain other available
work, he 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.
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. This 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.3d 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 evaluate in writing every piece of testimony
and evidence submitted.” Carlson v. Shalala,
999 F.2d 180, 181 (7th Cir. 1993) (citing Stephens v.
Heckler, 766 F.2d 284, 287 (7th Cir. 1985); Zblewski
v. Schweiker, 732 F.2d 75, 79 (7th Cir. 1984)). 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. 1994). To be
affirmed, the ALJ must articulate his analysis of the
evidence in his decision; while he “is not required to
address every piece of evidence or testimony, ” he 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.
The ALJ's Decision
first determined that Cage has not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since May 8, 2012, the alleged onset date.
[Dkt. 14-2 at 18.] At step two, the ALJ determined that Cage
“has the following severe impairments: diabetes
mellitus, peripheral neuropathy, left shoulder dysfunction,
obesity, blindness in the left eye, and depression.”
Id. However, at step three, the ALJ found that Cage
does not have an impairment or combination of impairments
that meets or medically equals a listed impairment. [Dkt.
14-2 at 19.] In making this determination, the ALJ considered
Listings 1.02 (Major Dysfunction of a Joint), 11.14
(Peripheral Neuropathy), 2.02 (Loss of Visual Acuity), and
12.04 (Depression). Id.
next analyzed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”). He concluded that Plaintiff had the RFC
to perform a range of light work except:
[C]laimant can lift, carry, push and pull 20 pounds
occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; sit for 6 of 8 hours;
and stand and/or walk 4 of 8 hours. There should be no more
than occasional overhead reaching with the left upper
extremity and no work that requires binocular vision. The
claimant is further limited to simple, repetitive unskilled
finding these limitations, the ALJ considered Cage's
“symptoms and the extent to which these symptoms can
reasonably be accepted as consistent with the objective
medical evidence and other evidence.” [Dkt. 14-2 at
23.] The ALJ then acknowledged that the evidence presented
could reasonably show that Cage suffers from the symptoms he
alleges, but she found his statements “not entirely
credible.” [Dkt. 14-2 at 32.] At step four, the ALJ
concluded the Plaintiff is unable to perform any past
relevant work. Id. The ALJ thus proceeded to step
five, at which time she received testimony from the
vocational expert indicating that someone with
Plaintiff's education, work experience, age, and RFC
would be able to perform unskilled light occupations such as
a small parts assembler, electrical accessories assembler,
and inspector hand packager. Because these jobs existed in
significant numbers in the national economy, the ALJ
concluded that Plaintiff was not disabled. [Dkt. 14-2 at 33.]