United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY REVIEWING THE COMMISSIONER'S
R. SWEENEY II, JUDGE
Angela G. (“Ms. G.”) applied for disability
insurance benefits (“DIB”) from the Social
Security Administration (“SSA”) on January 1,
2014, alleging an onset date of October 1, 2008. [ECF No.
17-2 at 26.] Her application was initially denied on
February 19, 2014, [ECF No. 17-4 at 2], and upon
reconsideration on April 28, 2014, [ECF No. 17-4 at
11]. On October 13, 2015, Ms. G. applied for
supplemental security income (“SSI”), alleging
the same onset date, and the two claims were consolidated for
further review. [ECF No. 17-2 at 26.] Administrative
Law Judge Howard Kauffman (the “ALJ”) held a
hearing on March 9, 2016. [ECF No. 17-2 at 44-83.]
The ALJ issued a decision on April 28, 2016, concluding that
Ms. G. was not entitled to receive DIB or SSI. [ECF No.
17-2 at 23.] The Appeals Council denied review on March
24, 2017. [ECF No. 17-2 at 2.] On May 30, 2017, Ms.
G. timely filed this civil action asking the Court to review
the denial of benefits according to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
[ECF No. 1.]
“The 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]ubstan-tial 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 accord 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 [Commissioner]; (4) whether the
claimant can perform her 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, she will
automatically be found disabled. If a claimant satisfies
steps one and two, but not three, then she 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 her own past
relevant work and if not, at Step Five to determine whether
the claimant can perform other work. See 20 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 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 only where all factual issues
have been resolved and the record can yield but one
supportable conclusion.” Id. (citation
was 42 years of age at the time she applied for DIB. [ECF
No. 17-5 at 2.] She has completed three years of college
and previously worked as a bartender, cook, and certified