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Klimek v. Berryhill

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

July 12, 2018

DAWN R. KLIMEK Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Dawn R. Klimek 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 affirms the ALJ's decision.

         A. Overview of the Case

         Plaintiff alleges that she became disabled on February 1, 2010. (R. at 190.) Plaintiff most recently worked in a factory, but has not worked since 2010. (R. at 41.) The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that Plaintiff suffered from two severe conditions. (R. at 16.) However, the ALJ concluded that, in between her alleged onset date and her date last insured (“DLI”) of September 30, 2012 (“the relevant period”), she could have performed past relevant work as a hand packager. (R. at 25.) The ALJ also found that she could perform other jobs that existed in significant numbers. (R. at 26.) Therefore, the ALJ denied her benefits. (R. at 29.) This decision became final when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (R. at 1.)

         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). Evidence is substantial if it is such “that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support [the ALJ's] conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971).

         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, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ improperly discounted the opinions of treating physicians and supported her step-three conclusions with only a “perfunctory analysis.” These errors, Plaintiff claims, corrupted the ALJ's Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) analysis at step four.

         (1) The Commissioner Did Not ...


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