United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
KRISTY L. CLARK, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
William C. Lee, Judge.
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. §1383. 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 SSI 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 Cir. 1970).
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, 2018.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since September 25, 2013, the alleged onset date (20
CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and degenerative disc
disease of the cervical and lumbar spine (20 CFR 404.1520(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, I find
that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to
lift and carry up to 50 pounds occasionally, 25 pounds
frequently, stand and/or walk about 6 hours in an 8-hour
workday, and sit about 6 hours in an 8-hour workday with
normal breaks. The claimant is limited to frequent but not
constant exposure to humidity and wetness, as well as
environments involving dust, odors, fumes or other pulmonary
irritants (20 CFR 404.1567(c) and 416.967 (c)).
6. The claimant is capable of performing past relevant work
as a product assembler and machine tender. This work does not
require the performance of work-related activities precluded
by the claimant's residual functional capacity (20 CFR
404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from September 25, 2013, through
the date of this decision (20 CFR 404.1520(f) and
(Tr. 21- 27).
upon these findings, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was
not entitled to disability insurance benefits. The ALJ's
decision became the final agency decision when the ...