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Fisher v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, LaFayette Division

March 26, 2018

Cathy M. Fisher Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Cathy M. Fisher seeks judicial review of the Social Security Commissioner's denial of her disability benefits, and asks this Court to remand the case. For the reasons below, the Court affirms the Administrative Law Judge's decision.

         A. Overview of the Case

         Plaintiff alleges that following surgery to remove a cyst to relieve carpel tunnel decompression pain, that Plaintiff also experienced abdominal pain, and a series of health issues that caused Plaintiff to become disabled on April 13, 2014. (R. at 159, 464.) Plaintiff had previously worked as a custodian, production line worker, chemical mixer, and assembler. (R. at 22.)

         The Administrative Law Judge found that Plaintiff suffered from mild right carpel tunnel syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity, sarcoidosis, and obstructive sleep apnea. (R. at 17.) Nonetheless, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff could still perform past relevant work as a custodian, production line worker, chemical mixer, and assembler. (R. at 25.) As a result, the ALJ denied Plaintiff benefits. (R. at 26.) This denial became final when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (R. at 1-6).

         B. Standard of Review

         This 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).

         C. Disability Standard

         The 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. 2012).

         The claimant bears the burden of proof at every step except step five. Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir. 2000).

         D. Analysis

         Plaintiff submits that the ALJ: (1) erred when he did not find Plaintiff's sarcoidosis to be a severe impairment; and (2) erroneously discounted ...


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