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.

Spicher v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

September 22, 2017

SUSAN R. SPICHER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM C. LEE, JUDGE

         This matter is before the court for judicial review of a final decision of the defendant Commissioner of Social Security Administration denying Plaintiff's application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as provided for in the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. §416(I). Section 205(g) of the Act provides, inter alia, "[a]s part of his answer, the [Commissioner] shall file a certified copy of the transcript of the record including the evidence upon which the findings and decision complained of are based. The court shall have the power to enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of the [Commissioner], with or without remanding the case for a rehearing." It also provides, "[t]he findings of the [Commissioner] as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive. . . ." 42 U.S.C. §405(g).

         The law provides that an applicant for disability insurance benefits must establish an "inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. . . ." 42 U.S.C. §416(i)(1); 42 U.S.C. §423(d)(1)(A). A physical or mental impairment is "an impairment that results from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques." 42 U.S.C. §423(d)(3). It is not enough for a plaintiff to establish that an impairment exists. It must be shown that the impairment is severe enough to preclude the plaintiff from engaging in substantial gainful activity. Gotshaw v. Ribicoff, 307 F.2d 840 (7th Cir. 1962), cert. denied, 372 U.S. 945 (1963); Garcia v. Califano, 463 F.Supp. 1098 (N.D.Ill. 1979). It is well established that the burden of proving entitlement to disability insurance benefits is on the plaintiff. See Jeralds v. Richardson, 445 F.2d 36 (7th Cir. 1971); Kutchman v. Cohen, 425 F.2d 20 (7th Cir. 1970).

         Given the foregoing framework, "[t]he question before [this court] is whether the record as a whole contains substantial evidence to support the [Commissioner's] findings." Garfield v. Schweiker, 732 F.2d 605, 607 (7th Cir. 1984) citing Whitney v. Schweiker, 695 F.2d 784, 786 (7th Cir. 1982); 42 U.S.C. §405(g). "Substantial evidence is defined as 'more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'" Rhoderick v. Heckler, 737 F.2d 714, 715 (7th Cir. 1984) quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401, 91 S.Ct. 1410, 1427 (1971); see Allen v. Weinberger, 552 F.2d 781, 784 (7th Cir. 1977). "If the record contains such support [it] must [be] affirmed, 42 U.S.C. §405(g), unless there has been an error of law." Garfield, supra at 607; see also Schnoll v. Harris, 636 F.2d 1146, 1150 (7th Cir. 1980).

         In the present matter, after consideration of the entire record, the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") made the following findings:

1. The claimant met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act through December 31, 2008.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq, and 416.971 et seq.)
3. Since the alleged onset date of disability, August 1, 2003, the claimant has had the following severe impairments: osteoarthritis due to nonunion of a left femur fracture, status post removal of rod and insertion of larger rod, plus autologous bone grafting; degenerative disc disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (“COPD”); fibromyalgia/chronic pain syndrome; and morbid obesity (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
4. Since the alleged onset date of disability, August 1, 2003, the claimant has not had an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that since August 1, 2003, the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) and 416.967(a) with the following limitations: she can lift ten pounds occasionally and frequently; can stand and walk for at least two hours in an eight-hour workday, and requires a hand-held assistive device to walk for even short distances, but the contralateral upper extremity can be used to lift and carry; can sit for about six hours in an eight-hour workday; is limited in the use of her lower extremities, and cannot work with foot controls; can never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds; can only occasionally climb ramps or stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl; must avoid concentrated exposure to extreme cold and heat, wetness, and humidity; and, must avoid even moderate exposure to fumes, odors, dusts, gases, poor ventilation, etc., and to hazards such as slick, uneven surfaces and unprotected heights.
6. Since August 1, 2003, the claimant has been unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. Prior to the established disability onset date, the claimant was a younger individual age 18-49. On September 20, 2012, the claimant's age category changed to an individual closely approaching advanced age (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963.
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 1564 and 416.964).
9. Although prior to September 20, 2012, transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is “not disabled” whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills, as of that date the rules change but any skills acquired from past work ...

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.