United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
TIMOTHY C. GORMAN, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN, BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Timothy C. Gorman seeks judicial review of the Social
Security Commissioner's decision denying him disability
benefits, and asks this Court to remand the case. For the
reasons below, this Court remands the ALJ's decision.
Overview of the Case
alleges that he became disabled on January 23, 2013. (R. at
165.) His date last insured (“DLI”) is June 30,
2015. (R. at 173.) Plaintiff used to work at a steel mill,
but has not worked since 2008. (R. at 51.) Plaintiff
previously met a listing entitling him to disability, but
after a little over a year, he no longer met the listing, so
Plaintiff re-applied for disability. (R. at 41-42.) After a
hearing on his new application, the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) found that Plaintiff suffered from severe
physical impairments and from non-severe anxiety. (R. at 20-
21.) However, the ALJ concluded that he could perform jobs
that existed in significant numbers. (R. at 28.) Therefore,
the ALJ denied him benefits. (R. at 29.) This decision became
final when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request
for review. (R. at 1.)
Standard of Review
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). This requires the ALJ to
“confront the [plaintiff's] evidence” and
“explain why it was rejected.” Thomas v.
Colvin, 826 F.3d 953, 961 (7th Cir. 2016). 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 “a reasonable mind
might accept [it] as adequate to support [the ALJ's]
conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S.
389, 401 (1971).
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.
claimant bears the burden of proof at every step except step
five. Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir.
presents several related arguments, but this case basically
boils down to whether the ALJ properly handled
Plaintiff's alleged need for a cane. She did not.
alleges that he has “a very bad sense of balance and
walking.” (R. at 66.) He used a cane at the hearing and
testified that he needs it due to balance and knee issues.
(R. at 71.) He also brought the cane with him to a
consultative examination, where he seemed to have no trouble
walking, so long as he used the cane. (R. at 386.) A
vocational expert testified at Plaintiff's hearing that
he would be unemployable if he needs the cane. (R. at 88-89).
Given that the decision only mentions the cane in passing,
the ALJ appeared to take for granted that Plaintiff needs it.
(R. at 26.) Yet, she did ...