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
Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and 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 U.S.C. §405(g).
provides that an applicant for DIB and/or 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 meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through September 30, 2019 (Ex. 9D).
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since May 16, 2013, the alleged onset date (20 CFR
404.1571 et seq., and 416.971 et seq.) (Ex.
3. The claimant has the severe combination of impairments of
cervical and lumbar degenerative disc disease with pain
clinic diagnoses of lumbar sacroilitis, radiculitis and pain,
hypertension, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (20
CFR 404.1520(c) and 416.920(c)).
4. 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 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526,
416.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform light work as defined in 20
CFR 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except the claimant is limited
to lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling ten pounds
frequently and twenty pounds occasionally. The claimant can
sit at least six hours in an eight-hour workday and stand
and/or walk six hours in an eight-hour work day. The claimant
should not climb ropes, ladders, or scaffolds. The claimant
can occasionally kneel, crouch, and crawl. The claimant can
occasionally balance. The claimant can occasionally bend and
stoop in addition to what is required to sit. The claimant
can occasionally use ramps and stairs. Aside from use of
ramps and stairs on an occasional basis, the claimant should
not work upon uneven surfaces. The claimant should 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 is limited from concentrated
exposure to excessive airborne particulate, dusts, fumes and
gases and excessive heat, humidity and cold such as when
working outside or withing a sawmill, boiler room, chemical
plant, green house, refrigerator or sewage plant. The
claimant should avoid work involving concentrated exposure to
vibration such as using heavy sanders. The claimant is
limited to occasional overhead work and occasional overhead
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565 and 416.965).
7. The claimant was born on December 14, 1964 and was 48
years old, which is defined as a younger individual age
18-49, on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant
subsequently changed age category to closely approaching
advanced age (20 CFR 404.1563 and 416.963).
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to
communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564 and 416.964).
9. 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).
10. Considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that the claimant can perform (20 CFR 404.1569, 404.1569(a),
416.969, and 416.969(a)).
11. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, from May 16, 2013, through the
date of this decision ...