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Wheeler v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

July 3, 2018

KIMBERLY J. WHEELER, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Kimberly J. Wheeler seeks judicial review of the Social Security Commissioner's decision denying her disability benefits, and asks this Court to remand the case. For the reasons below, this Court remands the ALJ's decision.

         A. Overview of the Case

          Plaintiff alleges that she became disabled on October 16, 2012. (R. at 181.) Plaintiff previously worked as a stocker at Wal-Mart and as a pre-school teacher, but has not worked since 2012. (R. at 35-37.) The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that Plaintiff suffered from multiple severe conditions. (R. at 15.) The ALJ, however, found that she could perform past relevant work as a pre-school teacher. (R. at 23.) The ALJ also concluded that she could perform light work with some limitations. (R. at 19.) Therefore, the ALJ denied her benefits. (R. at 25.) This decision became final when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (R. at 1.) Plaintiff's date last insured is December 31, 2017. (R. at 15.)

         B. Standard of Review

          This Court has authority to review the Commissioner's decision under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The Court will ensure that the ALJ built an “accurate and logical bridge” from evidence to conclusion. Thomas v. Colvin, 745 F.3d 802, 806 (7th Cir. 2014). The Court will uphold decisions that apply the correct legal standard and are supported by substantial evidence. Briscoe ex rel. Taylor v. Barnhart, 425 F.3d 345, 351 (7th Cir. 2005).

         C. Disability Standard

         The Commissioner follows a five-step inquiry in evaluating claims for disability benefits under the Social Security Act:

(1) whether the claimant is currently employed; (2) whether the claimant has a severe impairment; (3) whether the claimant's impairment is one that the Commissioner considers conclusively disabling; (4) if the claimant does not have a conclusively disabling impairment, whether he can perform his past relevant work; and (5) whether the claimant is capable of performing any work in the national economy.

Kastner v. Astrue, 697 F.3d 642, 646 (7th Cir. 2012).

         The claimant bears the burden of proof at every step except step five. Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir. 2000).

         D. Analysis

         Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in finding that she was not disabled. Specifically, she argues that the ALJ improperly weighed multiple medical opinions and omitted several of Plaintiff's limitations from the Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) analysis.

         (1) The ALJ Mishandled the Weighing of ...


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