United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
VICTOR F. FERNANDEZ, Plaintiff,
NANCY A BERRYHILL, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
R. CHERRY MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by
Plaintiff Victor F. Fernandez on August 8, 2016, and
Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Reversing the Decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security [DE 16], filed by
Plaintiff on February 17, 2017. Plaintiff requests that the
February 24, 2015 decision of the Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ) denying his claim for disability insurance benefits be
remanded for further proceedings. On May 1, 2017, the
Commissioner filed a response, and Plaintiff filed a reply on
May 24, 2017. For the following reasons, the Court grants the
request to remand for further proceedings.
January 11, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for a period
of disability and disability insurance benefits, alleging
disability beginning July 3, 2012. The claim was denied
initially and on reconsideration. Plaintiff timely requested
a hearing, which was held on July 19, 2013, before ALJ Jason
C. Earnhart in Valparaiso, Indiana. Also in attendance were
Plaintiff, his non-attorney representative, an impartial
vocational expert, and a vocational expert in training who
was at the hearing as an observer. On February 24, 2015, the
ALJ issued a written decision denying benefits, making the
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2016.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since July 3, 2012, the alleged onset date.
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: open
reduction and internal fixation of broken right ankle,
obesity, and open angle residual glaucoma.
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform medium work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(c) except the claimant can occasionally climb
ladders, ropes, scaffolds, ramps, stairs, balance, stoop,
kneel, crouch or crawl. He can occasionally use foot controls
with the right leg. He can have frequent exposure to moving
mechanical parts and to unprotected heights.
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work
as janitor (COT# 382.664-010), a floor waxer (DOT#
381.687-034), and a warehouse laborer (DOT# 922.687-058).
This work does not require the performance of work-related
activities precluded by the claimant's residual
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from July 3, 2012, through the
date of this decision.
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
leaving the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. 404.981. Plaintiff filed
this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 405(g) and 1383(c)(3)
for review of the Agency's decision.
parties filed forms of consent to have this case assigned to
a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further
proceedings and to order the entry of a final judgment in
this case. Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction to decide
this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and 42 U.S.C.
Social Security Act authorizes judicial review of the final
decision of the agency and indicates that the
Commissioner's factual findings must be accepted as
conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). Thus, a court reviewing the findings of an ALJ
will reverse only if the findings are not supported by
substantial evidence or if the ALJ has applied an erroneous
legal standard. See Briscoe v. Barnhart, 425 F.3d
345, 351 (7th Cir. 2005). Substantial evidence consists of
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Schmidt v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d 737, 744 (7th Cir.
2005) (quoting Gudgel v. Barnhart, 345 F.3d 467, 470
(7th Cir. 2003)).
reviews the entire administrative record but does not
reconsider facts, re-weigh the evidence, resolve conflicts in
evidence, or substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ.
See Boiles v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d 421, 425 (7th Cir.
2005); Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 869 (7th
Cir. 2000); Butera v. Apfel, 173 F.3d 1049, 1055
(7th Cir. 1999). Thus, the question upon judicial review of
an ALJ's finding that a claimant is not disabled within
the meaning of the Social Security Act is not whether the
claimant is, in fact, disabled, but whether the ALJ
“uses the correct legal standards and the decision is
supported by substantial evidence.” Roddy v.
Astrue, 705 F.3d 631, 636 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing
O'Connor-Spinner v. Astrue, 627 F.3d 614, 618
(7th Cir. 2010); Prochaska v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d
731, 734-35 (7th Cir. 2006); Barnett v. Barnhart,
381 F.3d 664, 668 (7th Cir. 2004)). “[I]f the
Commissioner commits an error of ...