United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
WILLIAM T. DUNGAN, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Defendant.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
J. Dinsmore United States Magistrate Judge Southern District
T. Dungan (“Dungan”) requests judicial review of
the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“Commissioner”) denying his
application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II of the Social Security Act
(“the Act”). See42 U.S.C. §§
416(i), 423(d), 1382c(a)(3)(A). For the reasons stated below,
the Magistrate Judge recommends that the District Judge
REVERSE and REMAND the
decision of the Commissioner.
16, 2013, Dungan filed an application for DIB, alleging
disability beginning July 16, 2013. [Dkt. 11-2 at
35.] Dungan alleges disability due to diabetes,
peripheral neuropathy, diabetic ulcers on his feet, anxiety,
depression, cataracts, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and cellulitis. [Dkt. 14 at
3.] Dungan's claim was initially denied on
October 31, 2013, and denied again on January 30, 2014, upon
reconsideration. [Dkt. 11-2 at 36.]
March 19, 2014, Dungan filed a timely written request for a
hearing, which was held on August 12, 2015 before
Administrative Law Judge Paul Greenberg (“ALJ”).
Id. at 33-34. The ALJ's decision, issued June
15, 2016, denied Dungan's application for DIB.
Id. at 31-43. On May 25, 2017, the Appeals Council
denied Dungan's request for review, making the ALJ's
decision the final decision of the Commissioner. Id.
at 1-3. Dungan made a timely filing of his Complaint with
this Court on July 24, 2017, and his Complaint is now before
the Court. [Dkt. 1.]
claimant found to be disabled, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §
423, is eligible for DIB. Here, disability is defined as the
“inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of a 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). To be found disabled, a claimant must
demonstrate that his physical or mental impairments are so
severe that “he is not only unable to do his previous
work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work
experience, engage in any other . . . substantial gainful
work . . . in the national economy.” 42 U.S.C. §
evaluate whether a claimant is disabled, the Commissioner
employs a five-step, sequential analysis: (1) the claimant is
not disabled if he is engaged in substantial gainful
activity; (2) the claimant is not disabled if he lacks a
“severe” impairment; (3) the claimant is disabled
if his impairment or combination of impairments meets or
medically equals any impairment in the Listing of Impairments
(“Listings”), found at 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpart
P, App. 1; (4) the claimant is not disabled if he is (a) not
found to be disabled at step three, and (b) able to perform
his past relevant work; and (5) the claimant is not disabled
if he is (a) not found to be disabled at step three, and (b)
can perform other work available in the national economy. 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520.
burden is on the claimant for the first four steps, but
shifts to the Commissioner at the fifth step. Young v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 957 F.2d 386,
389 (7th Cir. 1992). In order to evaluate the claimant's
functional limitations and capacity for work-related
activities, the ALJ assesses the claimant's residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) before proceeding to
steps four and five. S.S.R. 96-8p, 1996 WL 374184, at *1
(S.S.A. Jul. 2, 1996). The ALJ's findings become the
Commissioner's findings when the Appeals Council denies
review of the ALJ's findings. See Craft v.
Astrue, 539 F.3d 668, 673 (7th Cir. 2008); Henderson
v. Apfel, 179 F.3d 507, 512 (7th Cir. 1999).
Social Security Act provides for judicial review of a
Commissioner's denial of benefits. 42 U.S.C. §
405(g). However, the ALJ's findings of fact are
conclusive and must be upheld by this Court “so long as
substantial evidence supports them and no error of law
occurred.” Dixon v. Massanari, 270 F.3d 1171,
1176 (7th Cir. 2001). “Substantial evidence means such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion, ” id.,
although the ALJ “need not evaluate in writing every
piece of testimony and evidence submitted.” Carlson
v. Shalala, 999 F.2d 180, 181 (7th Cir. 1993) (citing
Stephens v. Heckler, 766 F.2d 284, 287 (7th Cir.
1985); Zblewski v. Schweiker, 732 F.2d 75, 79 (7th
Court may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment
for that of the ALJ. Overman v. Astrue, 546 F.3d
456, 462 (7th Cir. 2008) (citing Schmidt v. Apfel,
201 F.3d 970, 972 (7th Cir. 2000)). However, the
“ALJ's decision must be based upon consideration of
all the relevant evidence.” Herron v. Shalala,
19 F.3d 329, 333 (7th Cir. 1994). All evidence need not be
mentioned in the ALJ's decision, but the ALJ must
“provide some glimpse into her reasoning, ” and
“build an ‘accurate and logical bridge' from
the evidence to her conclusion” in order to be
affirmed. Dixon, 270 F.3d at 1176 (quoting
Zurawski v. Halter, 245 F.3d 881, 887-89 (7th Cir.
The ALJ's Decision
determined that Dungan was last insured, as required for DIB,
on March 31, 2014, and that Dungan's alleged disability
onset date was May 30, 2013. [Dkt. 11-2 at 35, 63.]
At step one, the ALJ found that Dungan did not engage in
substantial gainful activity during the time between his
alleged onset date and date last insured. Id. at 36.
At step two, the ALJ concluded that Dungan suffered from two
severe impairments, diabetes and diabetic neuropathy, but all
other alleged impairments were nonsevere. Id. To
determine whether Dungan's mental impairments were
severe, the ALJ considered the four broad functional areas
set out in the Listing of Impairments (“paragraph B
criteria”): (1) daily living activities; (2) social
functioning; (3) concentration, persistence, or pace; and (4)
periods of decompensation. 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpart P, App.
1; [Dkt. 11-2 at 39.] The ALJ concluded that
Dungan's mental impairments were nonsevere because he had
only mild limitations in the first three functional areas and
had experienced no extended periods of decompensation.
[Dkt. 11-2 at 39.]
three, the ALJ concluded that Dungan did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that met or
medically equaled the severity of one of the Listings.
[Dkt. 11-2 at 40;] 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpart P,
App. 1; see also20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(d),
404.1525, 404.1526. The ALJ's decision only makes mention
of an assessment under § 9.00 (Endocrine ...