United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
KELLY J. HELLER, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
William C. Lee, Judge
matter is before the court for judicial review of a final
decision of the defendant Commissioner of Social Security
Administration denying Plaintiff's application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security
Income (SSI), as provided for in the Social Security Act.
Section 205(g) of the Act provides, inter alia, "[a]s
part of his answer, the [Commissioner] shall file a certified
copy of the transcript of the record including the evidence
upon which the findings and decision complained of are based.
The court shall have the power to enter, upon the pleadings
and transcript of the record, a judgment affirming,
modifying, or reversing the decision of the [Commissioner],
with or without remanding the case for a rehearing." It
also provides, "[t]he findings of the [Commissioner] as
to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be
conclusive. . . ." 42 U.S.C. §405(g).
provides that an applicant for DIB must establish an
"inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity
by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental
impairment which can be expected to last for a continuous
period of no less than 12 months. . . ." 42 U.S.C.
§416(i)(1); 42 U.S.C. §423(d)(1)(A). A physical or
mental impairment is "an impairment that results from
anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities
which are demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques." 42 U.S.C.
§423(d)(3). It is not enough for a plaintiff to
establish that an impairment exists. It must be shown that
the impairment is severe enough to preclude the plaintiff
from engaging in substantial gainful activity. Gotshaw v.
Ribicoff, 307 F.2d 840 (7th Cir. 1962), cert. denied,
372 U.S. 945 (1963); Garcia v. Califano, 463 F.Supp.
1098 (N.D.Ill. 1979). It is well established that the burden
of proving entitlement to disability insurance benefits is on
the plaintiff. See Jeralds v. Richardson, 445 F.2d
36 (7th Cir. 1971); Kutchman v. Cohen, 425 F.2d 20
(7th Cir. 1970).
the foregoing framework, "[t]he question before [this
court] is whether the record as a whole contains substantial
evidence to support the [Commissioner's] findings."
Garfield v. Schweiker, 732 F.2d 605, 607 (7th Cir.
1984) citing Whitney v. Schweiker, 695 F.2d 784, 786
(7th Cir. 1982); 42 U.S.C. §405(g). "Substantial
evidence is defined as 'more than a mere scintilla. It
means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'"
Rhoderick v. Heckler, 737 F.2d 714, 715 (7th Cir.
1984) quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389,
401, 91 S.Ct. 1410, 1427 (1971); see Allen v.
Weinberger, 552 F.2d 781, 784 (7th Cir. 1977). "If
the record contains such support [it] must [be] affirmed, 42
U.S.C. §405(g), unless there has been an error of
law." Garfield, supra at 607; see
also Schnoll v. Harris, 636 F.2d 1146, 1150 (7th Cir.
present matter, after consideration of the entire record, the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) made the
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2020.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity throughout the period since June 29, 2013, the
alleged onset date (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq and
416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
degenerative disc disease; osteoarthritis; moderate hip
osteoarthritis; plantar fasciitis; hammer toes; Marfan
syndrome; mild obesity; mild chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease (“COPD”) v. asthma [sic].
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526,
416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except; the claimant is
limited to lifting ten pounds frequently and 20 pounds
occasionally. The claimant can carry ten pounds frequently
and 20 pounds occasionally. The claimant can occasionally
push and pull up to 20 pounds. The claimant can sit, stand,
and walk two hours each at a time without interruption, and
can sit for four hours in an eight-hour workday and stand and
walk two hours each in an eight-hour workday. The claimant
can perform occasional overhead reaching and frequent
reaching in all other directions. The claimant can
occasionally climb ropes, ladders, or scaffolds. The claimant
can occasionally kneel, crouch, crawl, and balance, as well
as bend and stoop in addition to what is required to sit. The
claimant can frequently use ramps and stairs. The claimant is
limited to frequent, not constant, fingering, feeling,
gripping, and fine manipulation of small objects, such as a
pen or paper clip. The claimant is limited to frequent, not
constant, gross manipulation and handling, grasping, turning,
and gripping of larger objects. The claimant can occasionally
use foot controls. The claimant should avoid work within
close proximity to open and exposed heights and around
hazardous and dangerous machinery, such as machines with open
flames or fast moving blades. The claimant is limited from
concentrated exposure to excessive airborne particulates,
dusts, fumes and gases, and excessive heat, humidity, and
cold, such as when working outside or within a sawmill,
boiler room, chemical plant, greenhouse, refrigerator, or
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on February 21, 1967, and was 46
years old, which is defined as a younger individual age
18-49, on the alleged disability onset date (20 CFR 404.1563
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the
determination of disability because using the
Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding
that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or
not the claimant has transferable job ...