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Tarnow v. Berryhill

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

March 30, 2018

JOSEPH E. TARNOW, Plaintiff
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Joseph E. Tarnow seeks judicial review of the Social Security Commissioner's decision denying him disability benefits and asks this Court to reverse the Defendant's denial of Plaintiff's applications for benefits and remand this the case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons below, this Court affirms the Acting Commissioner's decision.

         A. Overview of the Case

         Plaintiff alleges that he became disabled on December 31, 2011. Plaintiff allegedly suffers from various chronic illnesses including migraines, diabetes mellitus, Lyme disease, anxiety and depression, as well as blindness in his right eye. Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) Michael Carr found that Plaintiff suffered from blindness in his right eye, migraines, diabetes mellitus, Lyme's disease, an anxiety disorder, and depressive disorder. Nevertheless, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was not disabled because he possessed the residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform other work despite his limitations. Therefore, the ALJ denied Plaintiff benefits. The ALJ's decision became the Commissioner's final decision when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review.

         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). A claimant may obtain review of the Commissioner's final decision in the District Court of the United States under 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3). The Court must overturn an ALJ's decision where it is not supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Substantial evidence is “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971) (citing Consolidated Edison Co. v. NLRB, 305 U.S. 197, 229 (1938)).

         C. Disability Standard

         The Commissioner follows a five-step evaluation process to determine whether an individual is disabled and may claim 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 argues that the ALJ decision contains error of law and is not supported by substantial evidence. More specifically, Plaintiff's argues that the ALJ erred: (1) in weighing the opinion evidence; (2) by failing to properly analyze subjective symptoms; and (3) in determining the Plaintiff's RFC without substantial evidence.

         (1) The ALJ Weighed ...


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