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Arnold v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division

May 14, 2018

McKENZEE RUTH ARNOLD, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM C. LEE, JUDGE.

         This 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 Child Insurance Benefits[1] 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).

         The law provides that an applicant for benefits 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).

         Given 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. 1980).

         In the present matter, after consideration of the entire record, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) made the following findings:

1. Born on May 23, 1994, the claimant had not attained age 22 as of May 22, 2012 (20 CFR 404.102(c)(4) and 404.350(a)(5)).
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 22, 2012 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the following severe impairments: obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety panic disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mood disorder bipolar depression (Exhibits 4F, 5F, 8F, 11, F, 14F, 15F, 18F, 19F, 21F, 22F); and, reports of use of alcohol, marijuana and “psychedelic mushrooms” (Exhibits 7F, 8F, 15F, 21F)(20 CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or medically equals severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at all exertional levels but with the following nonexertional limitations. These limitations include the inability to tolerate fast-paced work or work requiring a regimented, strict or rigid pace of production. In addition, there is a limitation to only superficial interaction with supervisors, coworkers, and the general public, defined as occasional and casual contact with no prolonged conversations, and is further defined in that contact with supervisors is short, but allows for supervisors to give instructions absent any exposure to intense or critical supervision. Finally, the individual is bet suited to working alone, in semi-isolation from others, or as part of a small group.
6. The claimant has no past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on May 23, 1994, and was 6 years old, as of alleged onset, and the individual attained age 18 on May 22, 2012 (i.e. the day prior to her 18thbirthday), which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, at attainment of age 18 (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
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 an issue because the claimant does not have past relevant work (20 CFR ...

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