United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY ON JUDICIAL REVIEW
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE
Deanna Kay Baxley (“Baxley”) requests judicial
review of the final decision of the Deputy Commissioner for
Operations of the Social Security Administration (the
“SSA”), denying her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under the Social
Security Act. For the following reasons, the Court
AFFIRMS the decision of the Deputy
April 7, 2014, Baxley filed an application for DIB, alleging
a disability onset date of March 25, 2014. (Filing No.
14-2 at 47.) Her application was initially denied on
June 9, 2014, (Filing No. 14-4 at 3), and upon
reconsideration on September 18, 2014 (Filing No. 14-4 at
9). Administrative Law Judge Kimberly Sorg-Graves (the
“ALJ”) held a hearing on January 26, 2016, at
which Baxley, represented by counsel, and a vocational expert
(“VE”), Gail Corn, appeared and testified.
(Filing No. 14-2 at 5-29.) The ALJ issued a decision
on March 8, 2016, concluding that Baxley was not entitled to
receive DIB. (Filing No. 14-2 at 44.) The Appeals
Council denied review on March 8, 2017. (Filing No. 14-2
at 30.) On May 1, 2017, Baxley timely filed this civil
action, asking the court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
to review the final decision of the Deputy Commissioner
denying Baxley benefits. (Filing No. 1.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
the Social Security Act, a claimant may be entitled to
benefits only after she establishes that she is disabled.
Disability is defined as the “inability 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 12
months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). In order to be
found disabled, a claimant must demonstrate that her physical
or mental limitations prevent her from doing not only her
previous work but any other kind of gainful employment which
exists in the national economy, considering her age,
education, and work experience. 42 U.S.C. §
Deputy Commissioner employs a five-step sequential analysis
to determine whether a claimant is disabled. At step one, if
the claimant is engaged in substantial gainful activity, she
is not disabled despite her medical condition and other
factors. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i). At step two, if
the claimant does not have a “severe” impairment
that meets the durational requirement, she is not disabled.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(ii). A severe impairment is
one that “significantly limits [a claimant's]
physical or mental ability to do basic work
activities.” 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(c). At step
three, the Deputy Commissioner determines whether the
claimant's impairment or combination of impairments meets
or medically equals any impairment that appears in the
Listing of Impairments, 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1, and whether the impairment meets the twelve month
duration requirement; if so, the claimant is deemed disabled.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iii).
claimant's impairments do not meet or medically equal one
of the impairments on the Listing of Impairments, then her
residual functional capacity will be assessed and used for
the fourth and fifth steps. Residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) is the “maximum that a claimant can
still do despite [her] mental and physical
limitations.” Craft v. Astrue, 539 F.3d 668,
675-76 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing 20 C.F.R. §
404.1545(a)(1); SSR 96-8p). At step four, if the claimant is
able to perform her past relevant work, she is not disabled.
20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(iv). At the fifth and final
step, it must be determined whether the claimant can perform
any other work, given her RFC and considering her age,
education, and past work experience. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4)(v). The claimant is not disabled if she can
perform any other work in the relevant economy.
combined effect of all the impairments of the claimant shall
be considered throughout the disability determination
process. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2)(B). The burden of proof
is on the claimant for the first four steps; it then shifts
to the Deputy Commissioner for the fifth step. Young v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 957 F.2d 386,
389 (7th Cir. 1992).
applicant appeals an adverse benefits decision, this
Court's role is limited to ensuring that the ALJ applied
the correct legal standards and that substantial evidence
exists for the ALJ's decision. Barnett v.
Barnhart, 381 F.3d 664, 668 (7th Cir. 2004) (citation
omitted). For the purpose of judicial review,
“[s]ubstantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id. (quotation omitted). Because
the ALJ “is in the best position to determine the
credibility of witnesses, ” Craft, 539 F.3d at
678, this Court must afford the ALJ's credibility
determination “considerable deference, ”
overturning it only if it is “patently wrong.”
Prochaska v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 731, 738 (7th Cir.
2006) (quotations omitted).
ALJ committed no legal error and substantial evidence exists
to support the ALJ's decision, the Court must affirm the
denial of benefits. Barnett, 381 F.3d at 668. When
an ALJ's decision is not supported by substantial
evidence, a remand for further proceedings is typically the
appropriate remedy. Briscoe ex rel. Taylor v.
Barnhart, 425 F.3d 345, 355 (7th Cir. 2005). An award of
benefits “is appropriate where all factual issues have
been resolved and the record can yield but one supportable
conclusion.” Id. (citation omitted).
was 54 years of age at the time she applied for DIB citing
several impairments, most of which centered around disorders
causing pain in the back, shoulders, and knees, as well as
difficulty breathing. (Filing No. 14-5 at 2.) She
has a limited education, (Filing No. 14-2 at 8), and
previously worked as an inspector, a mail clerk, a machine
stapler, and an inspector and packager, (Filing No. 14-2
followed the five-step sequential evaluation set forth by the
SSA in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4) and ultimately
concluded that Baxley is not disabled. (Filing No. 14-2
at 54.) The ALJ determined that Baxley meets the insured
status requirements of the Social Security Act through
December 31, 2018. (Filing No. 14-2 at 49.) At step
one, the ALJ found that Baxley has not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since March 25, 2014, the alleged onset
date. (FilingNo. 14-2 at 49.) At step two,
the ALJ found that Baxley has the following severe
impairments: chronic pulmonary insufficiency, degenerative
disc disease, and right shoulder impairment. (Filing No.
14-2 at 49.) At step three, the ALJ found that Baxley
does not have an impairment or combination ...