United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
DEBORAH D. BRYANT, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting 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 Deborah D. Bryant on December 21, 2016, and
Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Reversing the Decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security [DE 17], filed by
Plaintiff on May 5, 2017. Plaintiff requests that the July
27, 2015 decision of the Administrative Law Judge denying her
claim for disability insurance benefits be reversed and
remanded for further proceedings. On August 16, 2017, the
Commissioner filed a response. Plaintiff filed a reply brief
on September 5, 2017. For the following reasons, the Court
grants Plaintiff's request for remand.
filed an application for disability insurance benefits on
August 29, 2013, alleging disability since March 20, 2009.
The claim was denied initially and on reconsideration. On
February 21, 2014, Plaintiff filed a written request for
hearing. On April 6, 2015, Administrative Law Judge Joel G.
Fina (“ALJ”) held a hearing. In attendance at the
hearing were Plaintiff, Plaintiff's attorney, an
impartial medical expert, and an impartial vocational expert.
On July 27, 2015, the ALJ issued a written decision denying
benefits, making the following findings:
1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act on September 30, 2011.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful
activity during the period from her alleged onset date of
March 20, 2009 through her date last insured of September 30,
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the
following severe impairments: bilateral plantar fasciitis,
status post releases; left ankle arthritis, status post
fracture; obesity; obstructive sleep apnea.
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.
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find
that, through the date last insured, the claimant had the
residual functional capacity to perform light work as defined
in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except lifting and carrying less than
20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently; standing and
walking for approximately 6 hours in an 8 hour workday;
sitting for approximately 6 hours in an 8 hour workday; no
climbing ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; occasional climbing
ramps or stairs, balancing, stooping, kneeling, crouching,
crawling; and avoid concentrated exposure to uneven terrain.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was capable of
performing past relevant work as a clothes sorter and day
care worker. This work did not require the performance of
work-related activities precluded by the claimant's
residual functional capacity.
7. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the
Social Security Act, at any time from March 20, 2009, the
alleged onset date, through September 30, 2011, the date last
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) 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 ...