United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
MICHELLE L. HOUSE, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
Michelle House applied for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) and/or supplemental security
income (“SSI”) from the Social Security
Administration (“SSA”) on February 6,
2014, alleging a disability onset date of December 1, 2013.
[Filing No. 25-3 at 13.] Her application was initially denied
on March 20, 2014, [Filing No. 25-5 at 4], and upon
reconsideration on June 18, 2014, [Filing No. 25-5 at 24].
The ALJ conducted a hearing on November 18, 2015, [Filing No.
25-3 at 30-70], resulting in a decision on December 1, 2015
that Ms. House was not entitled to receive DIB or SSI,
[Filing No. 25-3 at 10]. The Appeals Council denied review on
April 14, 2017. [Filing No. 25-3 at 2.] On June 19, 2017, Ms.
House timely filed this action seeking judicial review of the
denial of benefits, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) and
42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3). [Filing No. 1.] For the reasons
detailed below, the decision of the ALJ is REVERSED
and the case REMANDED for action consistent with
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
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).
must apply the five-step inquiry in sequence set forth in 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i)-(v), to determine:
(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
Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir. 2000)
(citations omitted) (alterations in original).“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).
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.
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).
House, Plaintiff herein, was 41 years of age at the time she
applied for DIB and/or SSI. [Filing No. 25-6 at 2.] She has
at least a high school education and previously worked as a
customer service clerk, data entry clerk, and bank teller.
[Filing No. 25-3 at 21.]
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. House is not