United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
OPINION AND ORDER
William C. Lee, Judge United States District Court
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 Social Security
Income 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
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 no 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
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.
present matter, after consideration of the entire record, the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) made the
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2014.
2. The claimant has not engaged in disqualifying work
activity since December 4, 2009, the alleged onset date (20
CFR 404.1571 et seq. and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: back
pain due to degenerative changes, history of chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease with periodic exacerbation,
history of smoking, degenerative joint disease of the
bilateral feet requiring bunionectomy of the right foot and
left foot, bipolar disorder/depression, anxiety disorder,
posttraumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive
disorder (20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
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,
Appendix 1 (20 CFR 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 the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform “light” work as
defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b)(i.e. lifting,
carrying, pushing, and pulling up to 20 pounds occasionally
and 10 pounds frequently; sitting up to at least six out of
eight hours in an eight hour workday; and standing/walking,
in combination, up to at least six out of eight hours in an
eight hour workday) with the following additional
limitations: she requires a sit/stand option (which allows
for alternating between sitting and standing up to every 30
minutes, if needed, but the positional change will not render
the individual off task). She can occasionally climb ramps
and stairs, balance, stoop, kneel, crouch, and crawl. She can
never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She must avoid
concentrated exposure to extreme cold, heat, humidity,
wetness, and pulmonary irritants (i.e. fumes, odors, dust,
gases, poorly ventilated areas, and chemicals). Mentally, the
claimant cannot understand, remember, or carry out detailed
or complex job instructions, but can perform simple,
repetitive tasks on a sustained basis (meaning eight hours a
day/5 days a week, or an equivalent work schedule). She
cannot tolerate sudden or unpredictable workplace
distractions. She needs work at a flexible pace (where the
employee is allowed some independence in determining either
the timing of different work activities or pace of work) with
no strict production pace standards. She can tolerate only
casual/superficial interactions with others, including
supervisors, coworkers, and the general public.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on November 29, 1961 and was 48
years old, which is defined as a younger individual age
18-49, on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant
subsequently changed age category to 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 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. 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 ...