United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
JEAN M. REID, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL Deputy Commissioner for Operations, Social Security Administration, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. Pryor" United States Magistrate Judge Southern
District of Indiana
Jean M. Reid requests judicial review of the denial by the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”) of her application for Social
Security Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”)
under Title II of the Social Security Act (“the
Act”). See 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d),
405(g). For the reasons set forth below, the Magistrate Judge
recommends that the Commissioner's decision should be
March 24, 2014, Jean M. Reid (“Reid”) filed for
disability insurance benefits under Title II of the Social
Security Act, alleging her disability began on January 31,
2010. The claims were denied initially and upon
reconsideration. Reid then filed a written request for a
hearing on December 17, 2014, which was granted.
4, 2016, Administrative Law Judge Dennis L. Pickett conducted
the hearing, where Reid and a vocational expert testified. On
July 19, 2016, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision finding
that Reid was not disabled as defined in the Act. The Appeals
Council denied Reid's request for review of this decision
on June 30, 2017, making the ALJ's decision final. Reid
now seeks judicial review of the Commissioner's decision.
See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
was 54 years old at the time of the alleged onset date of her
disability in 2010. [Dkt. 11 at 5]. She completed the
eleventh grade of high school and did not obtain a GED
(General Equivalency Diploma). [Id.] Reid previously
worked as a cashier and as a delicatessen counter worker.
[Id.] For her application for social security
benefits and on subsequent appeals, Reid alleged problems
including heart attacks, back pain, left shoulder surgery,
bad knees, sleep apnea, insomnia, and high blood pressure.
[Dkt. 11 at 4].
Standard of Review
prove disability, a claimant must show she is unable to
“engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason
of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment
which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted
or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not
less than twelve months.” 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A). To meet this definition, a claimant's
impairments must be of such severity that she is not able to
perform the work she previously engaged in and, based on her
age, education, and work experience, she cannot engage in any
other kind of substantial gainful work that exists in
significant numbers in the national economy. 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(2)(A). The Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) has implemented these statutory standards
by, in part, prescribing a five-step sequential evaluation
process for determining disability. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520. The ALJ must consider whether:
(1) the claimant is presently [un]employed; (2) the claimant
has a severe impairment or combination of impairments; (3)
the claimant's impairment meets or equals any impairment
listed in the regulations as being so severe as to preclude
substantial gainful activity; (4) the claimant's residual
functional capacity leaves [her] unable to perform [her] past
relevant work; and (5) the claimant is unable to perform any
other work existing in significant numbers in the national
Briscoe ex rel. Taylor v. Barnhart, 425 F.3d 345,
351-52 (7th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted). An affirmative
answer to each step leads either to the next step or, at
steps three and five, to a finding that the claimant is
disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520; Briscoe, 425 F.3d at
352. A negative answer at any point, other than step three,
terminates the inquiry and leads to a determination that the
claimant is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520. The
claimant bears the burden of proof through step four.
Briscoe, 425 F.3d at 352. If the first four steps
are met, the burden shifts to the Commissioner at step five.
Id. The Commissioner must then establish that the
claimant-in light of her age, education, job experience and
residual functional capacity to work-is capable of performing
other work and that such work exists in the national economy.
42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2); 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(f).
Court reviews the Commissioner's denial of benefits to
determine whether it was supported by substantial evidence or
is the result of an error of law. Dixon v.
Massanari, 270 F.3d 1171, 1176 (7th Cir. 2001). Evidence
is substantial when it is sufficient for a reasonable person
to conclude that the evidence supports the decision. Rice
v. Barnhart, 384 F.3d 363, 369 (7th Cir. 2004). The
standard demands more than a scintilla of evidentiary
support, but does not demand a preponderance of the evidence.
Wood v. Thompson, 246 F.3d 1026, 1029 (7th Cir.
2001). Thus, the issue before the Court is not whether Reid
is disabled, but, rather, whether the ALJ's findings were
supported by substantial evidence. Diaz v. Chater,
55 F.3d 300, 306 (7th Cir. 1995).
substantial-evidence determination, the Court must consider
the entire administrative record but not “reweigh
evidence, resolve conflicts, decide questions of credibility,
or substitute our own judgment for that of the
Commissioner.” Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d
863, 869 (7th Cir. 2000). Nevertheless, the Court must
conduct a critical review of the evidence before affirming
the Commissioner's decision, and the decision cannot
stand if it lacks evidentiary support or an adequate
discussion of the ...