United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
Laura Sorrels (“Sorrels”) appeals the final
decision of the Deputy Commissioner for Operations
(“Deputy Commissioner”) of the Social Security
Administration (“SSA”) denying her April 30,
2014, applications for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) and supplemental security income
(“SSI”). R. (Dkt. 13) at 14. The applications were
initially denied on August 19, 2014, R. at 116, and upon
reconsideration on October 15, 2014. R. at 128. The
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) conducted a
hearing on March 17, 2016, R. at 29, resulting in a decision
on June 27, 2016, that Sorrels was not disabled and thus not
entitled to receive DIB or SSI. R. at 11. The Appeals Council
denied review on April 5, 2017, and the Deputy
Commissioner's decision became final. R. at 1. On June 9,
2017, Sorrels timely filed this action seeking judicial
review of that decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
and 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3). Dkt. 1.
reasons below, the decision is reversed and the case remanded
for action consistent with this order.
followed the five-step sequential evaluation set forth by the
SSA, see 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i) to (v),
in concluding that Sorrels is not disabled. Specifically, the
ALJ found as follows:
• Preliminarily with respect to Sorrels's DIB claim,
Sorrels last met the insured status requirements on June 30,
2005. R. at 16.
• At Step One, Sorrels had not engaged in substantial
gainful activitysince February 15, 2004, the alleged
disability onset date. Id.
• At Step Two, Sorrels suffered from the following
severe impairments: osteoarthritis of the bilateral knees,
fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder, and anxiety. Id.
• At Step Three, Sorrels did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the
severity of one of the listed impairments. R. at 17.
• At Step Four, Sorrels had the residual functional
capacity (“RFC”) to “perform light work as
defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), except that she
is able to lift and carry twenty pounds occasionally and ten
pounds frequently. [Sorrels] can stand and/or walk six hours
of an eight-hour workday and sit for six hours of an
eight-hour workday. [Sorrels] must alternate positions for
1-2 minutes every 30 minutes. [Sorrels] can occasionally
climb ramps, stairs, ladders, ropes, and scaffolds. [Sorrels]
can occasionally balance, stoop, kneel, crouch and crawl.
[Sorrels] must avoid moderate use of moving machinery and
exposure to unprotected heights. [Sorrels] is able to
understand, remember, and follow simple to mildly complex
instructions. [Sorrels] is restricted to work that involves
brief, superficial interactions with fellow workers and the
public. [Sorrels] is able to sustain attention and
concentration skills to carry out work-like tasks with
reasonable pace and persistence. The work must not require
driving. The work must allow a flexible pace free of
fast-paced production. [Sorrels] must be allowed to be
off-task 2-5 minutes every hour. The work must accommodate
one absence per month.” R. at 19.
• At Step Five, relying on the testimony of the
vocational expert (“VE”) and in light of
Sorrels's age (41), education (high-school equivalency
and medical assistant degrees), past work experience (none
relevant), and RFC, there were jobs that existed in
significant numbers in the national economy which Sorrels
could have performed through the date of the decision. R. at
review of the Deputy Commissioner's decision,
[w]e will uphold [it] if it applies the correct legal
standard and is supported by substantial evidence.
Castile v. Astrue,617 F.3d 923, 926 (7th Cir.
2010). Substantial evidence is “‘such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.'” Id. (quoting
Skinner v. Astrue,478 F.3d 836, 841 (7th Cir.
2007)). A decision denying benefits need not discuss every
piece of evidence, but if it lacks an adequate discussion of
the issues, it will be remanded. Villano v. Astrue,556 F.3d 558, 562 (7th Cir. 2009). ...