United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
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
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
provides that an applicant for SSI 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 engaged in substantial gainful activity at
times since the amended alleged onset date but there have
been continuous 12-month periods in which she did not engage
in substantial gainful activity (20 CFR 416.920(b) and
416.971 et seq).
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
coronary artery disease with a history of myocardial
infarctions with quadruple coronary artery bypass grafting
and coronary artery stenting; peripheral vascular disease
with stenting of the left leg; fibromyalgia, diabetes
mellitus with neuropathy, hypertension, COPD, degenerative
joint disease of the left hip, and mild disc desiccation and
narrowing with a small disc protrusion at ¶ 5-S1 that
results in mild encroachment of the thecal sac. She has a
very recent diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome which is
reflected in the limitations of function with respect to the
very recent period since January 2016 (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
3. 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 416.925 and 416.926).
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that, prior to January 2016, the claimant
had the residual functional capacity to perform light work as
defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b) except that she was not able to
climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds at all and she could only
occasionally kneel, crouch, crawl, balance, and use ramps and
stairs. She could occasionally bend and stoop in addition to
what is required to sit. Aside from use of ramps and stairs
on an occasional basis, she could not work upon uneven
surfaces. The claimant needed to avoid work within close
proximity to open and exposed heights and open and dangerous
machinery, such as open flames and fast-moving, exposed
blades. The claimant was limited from concentrated exposure
to excessive airborne particulate, dust, fumes, and gases and
excessive heat, humidity, and cold, such as when working
outside or within a sawmill, boiler room, chemical plant,
green house, refrigerator, or sewage plant. Beginning with
January 2016, the claimant has the residual functional
capacity to lift and carry 10 pounds frequently and
occasionally throughout the workday. She can occasionally
push and pull 10 pounds throughout the workday. She can sit 4
hours at a time and for a total of 5 hours in an eight-hour
workday. She can also stand and/or walk at least 3 hours in
an eight-hour workday. The claimant is limited to frequent,
not constant, fingering, feeling, gripping, and fine
manipulation of small objects, such as a pen or paper clip,
as well as to frequent, not constant, gross manipulation and
handling, grasping, turning, and gripping of larger objects.
She can frequently use foot controls. She should not climb
ropes, ladders or scaffolds but she can occasionally use
ramps and stairs, balance, bend, stoop, kneel, crouch, and
crawl. The claimant should avoid work within proximity to
open and exposed heights and open and dangerous machinery,
such as open flames and fast-moving, exposed blades. She is
also limited from concentrated exposure to excessive airborne
particulate, dust, fumes, and gases and excessive heat,
humidity, and cold, such as when working outside or within a
sawmill, boiler room, chemical plant, green house,
refrigerator, or sewage plant. She requires a cane for
prolonged ambulation and when upon uneven surfaces.
5. The claimant is able to perform her past relevant work for
the period prior to January 2016 but not beginning with
January 2016 (20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born on June 25, 1975 and was 37 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-49, on
the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.963).
7. The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. 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 skills (See SSR 82-41
and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity both for the
period prior to January 2016 and for the period beginning
January 2016, there are jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy ...