United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
WILLIAM T. SEABOLT, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael G. Gotsch, Sr. United States Magistrate Judge
William Seabolt (“Seabolt”) filed his complaint
in this Court seeking reversal of the Social Security
Commissioner's final decision to deny his application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) under Title
II and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under
Title XVI of the Social Security Act. Alternatively, Seabolt
seeks remand for further consideration of his application.
This Court may enter a ruling in this matter based on the
parties' consent pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B) and 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons
discussed below, this Court REMANDS this
case to the Social Security Administration for further
August 2, 2011, in Kentucky, Seabolt protectively filed
applications for DIB and SSI pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423
alleging disability beginning November 30,
February 5, 2013, a video hearing was held before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”). On May 22,
2013, the ALJ (“2013 ALJ”) issued her decision
denying Seabolt's application for DIB and SSI having
found that he was not disabled as defined by the Social
Security Act. Seabolt did not appeal this decision.
April 30, 2014, Seabolt again filed applications for a period
of disability to receive DIB and SSI, alleging disability
beginning May 23, 2013. Seabolt appeared and testified at a
hearing held on April 12, 2016, in Middlesboro, Kentucky
before a different ALJ. On September 9, 2016, the second ALJ
(“the ALJ”) issued a decision again denying
Seabolt's application for DIB and SSI having found that
there was no significant change in his condition, thus he was
not disabled as defined by the Social Security Act. On April
12, 2017, the Appeals Council denied Seabolt's request
for review, making the ALJ's decision the final decision
of the Commissioner.
Seabolt moved to the Northern District of Indiana. On June
16, 2017, Seabolt filed a complaint in this Court seeking
judicial review of the Commissioner's decision under 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). On November 6, 2017, Seabolt filed his
opening brief. Thereafter, on December 15, 2017, the
Commissioner filed a responsive memorandum asking the Court
to affirm the decision denying Seabolt's benefits.
Seabolt filed his reply brief on January 22, 2018.
the instant complaint, Seabolt seeks reversal or remand of
the ALJ's decision, arguing that he inappropriately
applied res judicata when he used the Residual
Functional Capacity (“RFC”) determination made by
the previous ALJ in 2013 (“the 2013 RFC”) to
reach his 2016 decision about whether Seabolt was disabled
rather than crafting his own RFC by reviewing the facts and
issues de novo. Seabolt also contends that the ALJ
erred in step five when he failed to inform the vocational
expert (“VE”) of all the limitations included in
the RFC he adopted from the 2013 ALJ's decision.
Therefore, Seabolt contends the VE was unaware of all his
limitations such that the VE's conclusion that Seabolt
could perform other jobs could not be supported by
Commissioner opposes all of Seabolt's arguments.
Standard of Review
judicial review, the Social Security Act requires that the
Court accept the Commissioner's factual findings as
conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g); Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 869
(7th Cir. 2000). Minimally, an ALJ must articulate his
analysis of the evidence in order to allow the reviewing
court to trace the path of his reasoning and to be assured
that the ALJ considered the important evidence. Scott v.
Barnhart, 297 F.3d 589, 595 (7th Cir. 2005). However,
the ALJ need not specifically address every piece of evidence
in the record, but must present a “logical
bridge” from the evidence to his conclusions.
O'Connor-Spinner v. Astrue, 627 F.3d 614, 618
(7th Cir. 2010). The ALJ must provide a glimpse into the
reasoning behind his analysis and the decision to deny
benefits. Zurawski v. Halter, 245 F.3d 881, 889 (7th
court reviewing the findings of an ALJ will reverse only if
the findings are not supported by substantial evidence or if
the ALJ has applied an erroneous legal standard. Briscoe
v. Barnhart, 425 F.3d 345, 351 (7th Cir. 2005).
Substantial evidence must be “more than scintilla but
may be less than a preponderance.” Skinner v.
Astrue, 478 F.3d 836, 841 (7th Cir. 2007). Thus,
substantial evidence is simply “such relevant evidence
as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401
(1971); Kepple v. Massanari, 268 F.3d 513, 516 (7th
reviews the entire administrative record but does not
reconsider facts, re-weigh the evidence, resolve conflicts in
evidence, decide questions of credibility or substitute its
judgment for that of the ALJ. Boiles v. Barnhart,
395 F.3d 421, 425 (7th Cir. 2005). Thus, the question upon
judicial review is not whether the claimant is, in fact,
disabled, but whether the ALJ “uses the correct legal
standards and the decision is supported by substantial
evidence.” Roddy v. Astrue, 705 F.3d 631, 636
(7th Cir. 2013). The ALJ must build a logical bridge from the
evidence to his conclusion ...