United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
E. MARTIN MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed by
Plaintiff Lori A. Higgins on April 21, 2017, and
Plaintiff's Brief in Support of Reversing the Decision of
the Commissioner of Social Security [DE 13], filed by
Plaintiff on November 22, 2017. Plaintiff requests that the
decision of the Administrative Law Judge be reversed and
remanded for benefits or further proceedings. On December 22,
2017, the Commissioner filed a response, and on January 18,
2018, Plaintiff filed a reply.
November 13, 2012, Plaintiff filed an application for
benefits alleging that she became disabled on January 1,
2002. Plaintiff's application was denied initially and
upon reconsideration. On March 17, 2015, Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) Romona Scales held a hearing at
which Plaintiff, without an attorney representative,
testified. On November 27, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision
finding that Plaintiff was not disabled.
made the following findings under the required five-step
1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of
the Social Security Act on December 31, 2007.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful
activity during the period from her alleged onset date of
January 1, 2002 through her date last insured of December 31,
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the
following medically determinable impairments: fibromyalgia,
headaches, obesity, and depression.
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that
significantly limited the ability to perform basic
work-related activities for 12 consecutive months; therefore,
the claimant did not have a severe impairment or combination
5. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the
Social Security Act, at any time from January 1, 2002, the
alleged onset date, through December 31, 2007, the date last
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review and
denied her request to reopen the decision, leaving the
ALJ's decision the final decision of the Commissioner.
parties filed forms of consent to have this case assigned to
a United States Magistrate Judge to conduct all further
proceedings and to order the entry of a final judgment in
this case. Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction to decide
this case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and 42 U.S.C.
Standard of Review
Social Security Act authorizes judicial review of the final
decision of the agency and indicates that the
Commissioner's factual findings must be accepted as
conclusive if supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). Thus, a 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. See Briscoe v. Barnhart, 425 F.3d
345, 351 (7th Cir. 2005). Substantial evidence consists of
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as ...