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Manjarrez v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

November 30, 2018

PETER MANJARREZ, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Peter Manjarrez 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 affirms the ALJ's decision.

         A. Overview of the Case

         Plaintiff alleges that he became disabled on October 15, 2013. (R. at 17.) Claimant meets insurance requirements through December 31, 2018. (R. at 64.) Plaintiff worked as an equipment operator in a train yard until 2013, but was injured in August 2010 in a work-related accident. (R. at 39, 43.) Following the accident, Mr. Manjarrez was placed on light duty until his unemployment in October 2013 and required a double hip replacement as a result of injuries sustained in the accident. (R. at 44, 47.) After hearing Mr. Manjarrez's claim for disability on the basis of back problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, depression, and bipolar disorder, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that Mr. Manjarrez suffered from worsening musculoskeletal issues which were aggravated by his obesity. (R. at 24.) The ALJ did, however, find that a number of jobs existed which the plaintiff could perform. (R. at 26.) As a result, the ALJ denied the claimant's disability benefit request on May 3, 2016. (R. at 27.)

         B. Standard of Review

          This 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).

         C. Disability Standard

         To determine eligibility for disability benefits under the Social Security Act, the ALJ will perform a five-step inquiry:

“(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. 2012).

         The burden of proof resides with the claimant for the first four steps, shifting to the Commissioner for determination of disability at step five. Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir. 2000).

         D. Analysis

         Plaintiff claims the ALJ committed four reversible errors: (1) the ALJ erred in posing a hypothetical to the vocational expert that did not include a complete and express description of plaintiff's restrictions in concentration, persistence, and pace (Pl.'s Br. at 1.); (2) the ALJ failed to consider the claimant's obesity as an aggravating factor in his musculoskeletal impairments; (Pl. Br. at 6.); (3) the ALJ did not accord proper weight to the treating physician's opinion (Pl.'s Br. at 9.); (4) the ALJ erred in evaluating the claimant's physical RFC because additional medical evidence was added to the record after the state agency medical consultants reviewed the claimant's medical history. (Pl.'s Br. at 5.). These complaints will be addressed in order.

         (1) Concentration, ...


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