United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
DEBRA J. WILHELM, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
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) as provided for in the
Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. §423(d). 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).
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 last met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act on December 31, 2010.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful
activity during the period from her alleged onset date of
April 15, 2006 through her date last insured of December 31,
2010 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the severe
impairments of osteoarthritis of the knees and obesity (20
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the listed
impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR
1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the
claimant was limited to lifting, carrying, pushing and
pulling ten pounds frequently and ten pounds occasionally.
The claimant could sit at least six hours in an eight-hour
workday and stand and/or walk two hours in an eight-hour
workday. The claimant should not climb ropes, ladders or
scaffolds. The claimant could occasionally kneel, crouch, and
crawl. The claimant could balance on even terrain but might
have difficulties with balance when walking, standing,
crouching upon very narrow, slippery or erratically moving
surfaces and so should avoid such surfaces. The claimant
could occasionally bend and stoop in addition to what is
required to sit. The claimant could occasionally use ramps
and stairs one or two flights with rails. The claimant should
not perform work within close proximity to open/exposed
heights and open/dangerous machinery such as open flames and
fast moving exposed blades.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was unable to
perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on November 23, 1965, and was 45
years old, which is defined as a younger individual age
45-49, on the date last insured (20 CFR 404.1563).
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to
communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
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 skills (See SSR 82-41
and 20 CFR Part 404. Subpart P, Appendix 2).
10. Through the date last insured, considering the
claimant's age, education, work experience, and residual
functional capacity, there were jobs that existed in
significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant
could have performed (20 CFR 404.1569 and 404.1569(a)).
11. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in
the Social Security Act, at any time from April 15, 2006, the
alleged onset date, through December 31, 2010, the ...