United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
Garnet L. Garber Plaintiff,
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
ENTRY ON THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE’S REPORT AND
Jane Magnus-Stinson, Chief Judge
L. Garber previously applied for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits on March 13, 2011. [Filing
No. 13-3 at 3.] Ms. Garber was initially denied
benefits, and after a hearing before Administrative Law Judge
Roxanne Fuller (“ALJ Fuller”), Ms.
Garber was determined not to be disabled on August 23, 2012.
[Filing No. 13-3 at 3.] Ms. Garber did not request
the Appeals Council to review ALJ Fuller’s decision.
[Filing No. 13-3 at 3.]
31, 2013, Ms. Garber applied for a period of disability and
disability insurance benefits for the second time, alleging
an onset date of March 15, 2010. [Filing No. 13-2 at
21.] Ms. Garber’s July 31, 2013 application was
denied initially and upon reconsideration. [Filing No.
13-2 at 21.] Ms. Garber requested a hearing, which was
presided over by Administrative Law Judge John Murdock
(“the ALJ”). [Filing No. 13-2 at
21.] The ALJ issued a decision concluding that Ms.
Garber was not disabled as defined by the Social Security
Act. [Filing No. 13-2 at 21-30.] Ms. Garber
requested that the Appeals Council review the ALJ’s
decision. [Filing No. 13-2 at 2.] On November 7,
2016, the Appeals Council denied Ms. Garber’s request,
[Filing No. 13-2 at 2], rendering that decision the
final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“the Commissioner”). 20
C.F.R. § 404.981. Ms. Garber then filed this action
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), requesting that this Court
review the Commissioner’s decision.
Court referred the matter to Magistrate Judge Mark J.
Dinsmore (“the Magistrate Judge”), who
issued a Report and Recommendation. [Filing No. 24.]
In the Report and Recommendation, the Magistrate Judge found
the ALJ’s decision to be supported by substantial
evidence and recommended the ALJ’s decision be
affirmed. [Filing No. 24 at 12.] Ms. Garber timely
filed her Objection to the Report and Recommendation, which
is presently pending before the Court. [Filing No.
25.] The Commissioner did not respond to the Objection.
the Court refers a dispositive matter to the Magistrate
Judge-as it did here-a party may object to the Magistrate
Judge’s report and recommendation and “[t]he
district judge must determine de novo any part of the
magistrate judge’s disposition that has been properly
objected to. The district judge may accept, reject, or modify
the recommended disposition; receive further evidence; or
return the matter to the magistrate judge with
instructions.” Fed. R Civ. P. 72(b)(3).
conducting its de novo review of the Magistrate Judge’s
Report and Recommendation, the Court will review this matter
as it does other social security appeals. Specifically, the
Court is limited to ensuring that the ALJ applied the correct
legal standards and that substantial evidence exists for the
ALJ’s decision. Barnett v. Barnhart, 381 F.3d
664, 668 (7th Cir. 2004) (citation omitted). For the purpose
of judicial review, “[s]ubstantial evidence is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Id.
(quotation omitted). Because the ALJ “is in the best
position to determine the credibility of witnesses,”
Craft v. Astrue, 539 F.3d 668, 678 (7th Cir. 2008),
this Court must afford the ALJ’s credibility
determination “considerable deference,”
overturning it only if it is “patently wrong,”
Prochaska v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 731, 738 (7th Cir.
2006) (quotation omitted).
must apply the five-step sequential inquiry set forth in 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4) to determine:
(1) whether the claimant is currently [un]employed; (2)
whether the claimant has a severe impairment; (3) whether the
claimant’s impairment meets or equals one of the
impairments listed by the [Commissioner]; (4) whether the
claimant can perform her past work; and (5) whether the
claimant is capable of performing work in the national
Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir. 2000)
(citations omitted) (alterations in original). “If a
claimant satisfies steps one, two, and three, she will
automatically be found disabled. If a claimant satisfies
steps one and two, but not three, then she must satisfy step
four. Once step four is satisfied, the burden shifts to the
SSA to establish that the claimant is capable of performing
work in the national economy.” Knight v.
Chater, 55 F.3d 309, 313 (7th Cir. 1995) (citation
Step Three, but before Step Four, the ALJ must determine a
claimant’s residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) by evaluating “all
limitations that arise from medically determinable
impairments, even those that are not severe.”
Villano v. Astrue, 556 F.3d 558, 563 (7th Cir.
2009). In doing so, the ALJ “may not dismiss a line of
evidence contrary to the ruling.” Id.The ALJ
uses the RFC at Step Four to determine whether the claimant
can perform her own past relevant work and, if not, at Step
Five to determine whether the claimant can perform other
work. See20 C.F.R. § 416.920(e), (g).
The burden of proof is on the claimant for Steps One through
Four; only at Step Five does the burden shift to the
Commissioner. Clifford, 227 F.3d at 868.
ALJ committed no legal error and substantial evidence exists
to support the ALJ’s decision, the Court must affirm
the denial of benefits. Barnett, 381 F.3d at 668.
When an ALJ’s decision is not supported by substantial
evidence, a remand for further proceedings is typically the
appropriate remedy. Briscoe ex rel. Taylor v.
Barnhart, 425 F.3d 345, 355 (7th Cir. 2005). An award of
benefits “is appropriate only where all factual issues
have been resolved and the record can yield but one
supportable conclusion.” Id. (citation
Garber was fifty-six years old at the time of her second
application for disability insurance benefits. [Filing
No. 13-5 at 2.] She has previously worked as a fast food
worker, membership salesperson, food demonstrator, and retail
store manager. [Filing No. 13-2 at 61-62.] Ms.
Garber claims ...