United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, LaFayette Division
KEVIN D. MILLER, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Kevin D. Miller seeks judicial review of the Social Security
Commissioner's denial of disability benefits, and asks
this Court to remand the case. For the reasons below, the
Court remands the case.
Overview of the Case
alleges he became disabled on November 15, 2011, following a
series of health issues, an injury at work, and injuries due
to overuse in his right knee after undergoing surgery on his
left knee. (R. at 43-44.) Plaintiff had previously worked as
a carpenter. (R. at 515.) The Administrative Law Judge found
that Plaintiff suffered from bilateral knee disorder,
cervical degenerative disc disease, carpal tunnel syndrome,
schizoaffective disorder, affective disorder, and substance
abuse disorder. (R. at 502.) Nonetheless, the ALJ concluded
that Plaintiff can still do various kinds of sedentary work,
with limitations, so long as he never interacts with the
public, and only interacts with coworkers and supervisors
occasionally. (R. at 506.) T. (R. at 516.) This denial became
final when the Social Security Appeals Council declined to
assume jurisdiction. (R.at 586.)
Standard of Review
Court has authority to review the Commissioner's decision
under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The Court will ensure that the
ALJ built an “accurate and logical bridge” from
evidence to conclusion. Thomas v. Colvin, 745 F.3d
802, 806 (7th Cir. 2014). The Court will uphold decisions
that apply the correct legal standard and are supported by
substantial evidence. Briscoe ex rel. Taylor v.
Barnhart, 425 F.3d 345, 351 (7th Cir. 2005).
Commissioner follows a five-step inquiry in evaluating claims
for disability benefits under the Social Security Act:
(1) whether the claimant is currently employed; (2) whether
the claimant has a severe impairment; (3) whether the
claimant's impairment is one that the Commissioner
considers conclusively disabling; (4) if the claimant does
not have a conclusively disabling impairment, whether he can
perform his past relevant work; and (5) whether the claimant
is capable of performing any work in the national economy.
Kastner v. Astrue, 697 F.3d 642, 646 (7th Cir.
claimant bears the burden of proof at every step except step
five. Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir.
submits that the ALJ: (1) did not adequately support the
mental functioning capacity determination; (2) erred in
considering Plaintiff's medical compliance; (3) erred in
evaluating Plaintiff's symptoms and assigning weight to
the opinion evidence; (4) erred when evaluating new medical
evidence; (5) and failed to follow SSR 96-8p. Finally,
Plaintiff argues that in failing to discuss several of
Plaintiff's arguments, the Commissioner agreed with
Plaintiff that remand was necessary.
The ALJ's mental functioning assessment was supported
by relevant evidence a ...