Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Hood v. Berryhill

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

March 13, 2018

KIMBERLY S. HOOD, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Defendant.

          ORDER ON COMPLAINT FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW

          Debra McVicker Lynch United States Magistrate Judge

         Plaintiff Kimberly Hood applied for disability insurance benefits (“DIB”) and/or supplemental security income (“SSI”) from the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) on August 16, 2013, alleging an onset date of July 9, 2013. [Filing No. 14 at Tr. 199.] Her application was initially denied on January 9, 2014, [Tr. 124], and upon reconsideration on February 20, 2014, [Tr. 138]. Administrative Law Judge James Myles (the “ALJ”) held a hearing on August 26, 2015. [Tr. 39-65]. The ALJ issued a decision on September 2, 2015, concluding that Ms. Hood was not entitled to receive disability insurance benefits or supplemental security income. [Tr. 16.] The Appeals Council denied review on October 18, 2016. [Tr. 1.] On November 22, 2016, Ms. Hood timely filed this civil action, asking the court to review the denial of benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c). [Filing No. 1.]

         I.

         Standard of Review

         “The Social Security Act authorizes payment of disability insurance benefits … to individuals with disabilities.” Barnhart v. Walton, 535 U.S. 212, 214 (2002). “The statutory definition of ‘disability' has two parts. First, it requires a certain kind of inability, namely, an inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity. Second, it requires an impairment, namely, a physical or mental impairment, which provides reason for the inability. The statute adds that the impairment must be one that has lasted or can be expected to last … not less than 12 months.” Id. at 217.

         When an applicant appeals an adverse benefits decision, this court's role 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) (quotations omitted).

         The ALJ must apply the five-step inquiry set forth in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i)-(v), evaluating the following, in sequence:

(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 economy.

Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted) (alterations in original).[1] “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).

         After 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. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(iv), (v). The burden of proof is on the claimant for Steps One through Four; only at Step Five does the burden shift to the Commissioner. See Clifford, 227 F.3d at 868.

         If the 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 where all factual issues have been resolved and the record can yield but one supportable conclusion.” Id. (citation omitted).

         II.

         Background

         Ms. Hood was 45 years old at the time she applied for disability insurance benefits and/or supplemental security income. [Tr. 199.] She has completed nine years of high school and does not have any past relevant work. [Tr. 27 and 30.]

         The ALJ followed the five-step sequential evaluation set forth by the Social Security Administration in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4) and ultimately concluded that Ms. Hood is not disabled. [Tr. 31.] The ALJ found as follows:

• At Step One, the ALJ found that Ms. Hood has not engaged in substantial gainful activity[2] since July 9, 2013, the alleged onset date. [Tr. 21.]
• At Step Two, the ALJ found that Ms. Hood has the following severe impairments: kidney disease with a history of pyelonephritis, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) liver disease, obesity, gastroparesis, bipolar disorder, depression, and a history of a learning disorder. [Tr. 21.]
• At Step Three, the ALJ found that Ms. Hood does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of one of the listed impairments. [Tr. 22.]
• After Step Three but before Step Four, the ALJ found that Ms. Hood has the RFC to “perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except: [a]fter standing and/or walking for 30 minutes, the claimant requires an opportunity to sit for two minutes or work seated. After sitting for 30 minutes, the claimant requires an opportunity to take a stretch break at the workstation. The claimant can occasionally crouch, balance, [stoop], climb, kneel and crawl but should avoid ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. The claimant requires restroom access in the work area. The claimant should avoid moderate exposure to workplace hazards. The claimant can have superficial interpersonal contact in the workplace. Lastly, the claimant is limited to routine, unskilled work.” [Tr. 25.]
• At Step Four, the ALJ concluded that Ms. Hood does not have any past relevant work. [Tr. 30.]
• At Step Five of the analysis, the ALJ found based on vocational expert (“VE”) testimony that considering Ms. Hood's age, education, and RFC, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Ms. Hood ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.