United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY REVIEWING THE DEPUTY COMMISSIONER'S
J. DINSMORE JUDGE
Andrew M. applied for disability insurance benefits from the
Social Security Administration (“SSA”) on August
10, 2012, alleging an onset date of July 1, 2012. [Filing
No. 16-2 at 12.] His application was initially denied on
October 17, 2012, [Filing No. 16-5 at 22], and upon
reconsideration on December 26, 2012, [Filing No. 16-5 at
32]. Administrative Law Judge Blanca B. de la Torre (the
“ALJ”) held a hearing on August 13, 2014.
[Filing No. 16-3 at 33-62.] The ALJ issued a
decision on September 24, 2014, concluding that Andrew M. was
not entitled to receive disability insurance benefits.
[Filing No. 16-4 at 21.] However, the Appeals
Council remanded the claim on March 31, 2016, with
instructions to obtain supplemental evidence from a
vocational expert (“VE”). [Filing No. 16-4 at
45-46.] The ALJ conducted a second hearing on July 8,
2016, [Filing No. 16-2 at 60-86], and again issued
an unfavorable decision denying the claim on November 2,
2016, [Filing No. 16-2 at 9]. The Appeal Council
subsequently denied review on September 29, 2017. [Filing
No. 16-2 at 2.] On October 30, 2017, Andrew M. timely
filed this civil action, asking the Court to review the
denial of benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
[Filing No. 1.] For the reasons set forth below, the
Deputy Commissioner's decision is
Social Security Act authorizes payment of disability
insurance benefits … to individuals with
disabilities.” Barnhart v. Walton, 535 U.S.
212, 214 (2002). “The statutory definition of
‘disability' has two parts. First, it requires a
certain kind of inability, namely, an inability to engage in
any substantial gainful activity. Second, it requires an
impairment, namely, a physical or mental impairment, which
provides reason for the inability. The statute adds that the
impairment must be one that has lasted or can be expected to
last … not less than 12 months.” Id. at
applicant appeals an adverse benefits decision, this
Court's role is limited to ensuring that the ALJ applied
the correct legal standards and that substantial evidence
exists for the ALJ's decision. Barnett v.
Barnhart, 381 F.3d 664, 668 (7th Cir. 2004) (citation
omitted). For the purpose of judicial review,
“[s]ubstantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id. (quotation omitted). Because
the ALJ “is in the best position to determine the
credibility of witnesses, ” Craft v. Astrue,
539 F.3d 668, 678 (7th Cir. 2008), this Court must afford the
ALJ's credibility determination “considerable
deference, ” overturning it only if it is
“patently wrong.” Prochaska v. Barnhart,
454 F.3d 731, 738 (7th Cir. 2006) (quotations omitted).
must apply the five-step inquiry set forth in 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i)-(v), evaluating the following, in
(1) whether the claimant is currently [un]employed; (2)
whether the claimant has a severe impairment; (3) whether the
claimant's impairment meets or equals one of the
impairments listed by the [Deputy Commissioner]; (4) whether
the claimant can perform [his] past work; and (5) whether the
claimant is capable of performing work in the national
Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir. 2000)
(citations omitted) (alterations in original). “If a
claimant satisfies steps one, two, and three, [he] will
automatically be found disabled. If a claimant satisfies
steps one and two, but not three, then [he] must satisfy step
four. Once step four is satisfied, the burden shifts to the
SSA to establish that the claimant is capable of performing
work in the national economy.” Knight v.
Chater, 55 F.3d 309, 313 (7th Cir. 1995).
Step Three, but before Step Four, the ALJ must determine a
claimant's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) by evaluating “all limitations that
arise from medically determinable impairments, even those
that are not severe.” Villano v. Astrue, 556
F.3d 558, 563 (7th Cir. 2009). In doing so, the ALJ
“may not dismiss a line of evidence contrary to the
ruling.” Id. The ALJ uses the RFC at Step Four
to determine whether the claimant can perform his own past
relevant work and if not, at Step Five to determine whether
the claimant can perform other work. See20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(iv), (v). The burden of proof is on the
claimant for Steps One through Four; only at Step Five does
the burden shift to the Deputy Commissioner. See
Clifford, 227 F.3d at 868.
ALJ committed no legal error and substantial evidence exists
to support the ALJ's decision, the Court must affirm the
denial of benefits. Barnett, 381 F.3d at 668. When
an ALJ's decision is not supported by substantial
evidence, a remand for further proceedings is typically the
appropriate remedy. Briscoe ex rel. Taylor v.
Barnhart, 425 F.3d 345, 355 (7th Cir. 2005). An award of
benefits “is appropriate where all factual issues have
been resolved and the record can yield but one supportable
conclusion.” Id. (citation omitted).
M. was 27 years of age at the time he applied for disability
insurance benefits. [Filing No. 16-7 at 2.] He has
at least a high school education and previously worked as a
laundry attendant, warehouse worker, and banquet set-up
person. [Filing No. 16-2 at 26-27.]
followed the five-step sequential evaluation set forth by the
Social Security Administration in 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4) and ultimately concluded that Andrew M. was