Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Spicher v. Berryhill

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

August 3, 2018

Susan R. Spicher, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued April 10, 2018

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne Division. No. 1:16-cv-00371 - William C. Lee, Judge.

          Before Wood, Chief Judge, and Flaum and Kanne, Circuit Judges.

          KANNE, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         Susan Spicher suffers from a series of chronic health problems, including osteoarthritis, degenerative disc disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, fibromyalgia, and morbid obesity. In 2010, Spicher applied for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income dating back to 2003. An ALJ concluded that Spicher had not become disabled until September 20, 2012. The district court affirmed the ALJ's decision. Because the ALJ's conclusion was not supported by substantial evidence, we now reverse and remand.

         I. Background

         This is the second time Spicher's case is up for judicial review. After a 2012 hearing, an ALJ found that Spicher was not disabled from August 1, 2003 to May 30, 2012. But the district court remanded the case because the ALJ had not properly considered the limitations imposed by Spicher's obesity, both independently and in combination with her other impediments. Spicher v. Colvin, No. 1:13-CV-304-TLS, 2015 WL 4714293 (N.D. Ind. Aug. 7, 2015).

         After the remand, the ALJ held another hearing on May 25, 2016. There, Spicher narrowed her case, focusing on whether she had been disabled since December 31, 2008, when her insured status expired. In response to the district court's instructions to reconsider Spicher's obesity, the ALJ consulted a second doctor who essentially adopted the findings of the medical reports already in the record. At the conclusion of the hearing, the ALJ remarked that her further consideration of Spicher's obesity had not motivated her to change her findings.

         The ALJ ultimately issued an opinion that again concluded that Spicher had not been disabled until September 20, 2012. Her decision rested on her finding that Spicher could hold a sedentary position and perform three jobs identified by a vocational expert. In addition, the ALJ found that Spicher could occasionally crouch, crawl, balance, stoop, and kneel. Spicher appealed that decision to the district court. After the district court affirmed the ALJ's decision, Spicher appealed to this court.

         II. Analysis

         On appeal, Spicher raises two issues. First, she argues that the ALJ violated her due process rights by prejudging the outcome of her case. Second, she contends that the ALJ improperly concluded that she was not disabled. We address each argument in turn.

         A. The ALJ did not violate Spicher's due process rights on remand.

         Applicants for disability benefits have the right to a hearing before a fair decisionmaker. Keith v. Barnhart, 473 F.3d 782, 787-88 (7th Cir. 2007). We review whether alleged due process violations merit a new hearing de novo, id. at 787, and will remand for a new hearing only if the "decisionmaker 'displayed deep-seated and unequivocal antagonism that would render fair judgment impossible.'" Id. at 788 (quoting Liteky v. United States, 510 U.S. 540, 556 (1994)).

         Spicher directs the court to two points in the hearing that she argues show the ALJ's bias against her. The first came as ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.