United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
DAVID E. DURHAM, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
David E. Durham 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
Plaintiff alleges that he became disabled November 1, 2012.
(R. at 10.) Plaintiff's date last insured
(“DLI”) was December 31, 2013. (R. at 12.)
Plaintiff worked as a shipping and receiving clerk prior to
his plant closing in 2012. (R. at 10, 40.) After a video
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ) in
2016, the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffered from the severe
impairments of late effects of a remote myocardial infarction
and ventricular tachycardia status post an implantable
cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) placement, cervical
degenerative disc disease, and right glenohumeral
degenerative joint disease. (R. at 12.) The ALJ did, however,
find that a number of jobs existed which Plaintiff could
perform. (R. at 20.) Therefore, the ALJ found him to be not
disabled at any time from November 1, 2012, the alleged onset
date, through December 31, 2013, the date last insured, and
denied him benefits. (R. at 20.) 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, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 28 L.Ed.2d 842 (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) zwhether
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 claimant bears the burden of proof at every step
except step five. Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863,
868 (7th Cir. 2000).
contends that the ALJ committed four reversible errors: that
the ALJ played doctor in interpreting medical evidence; that
the ALJ improperly evaluated Plaintiff's subjective
symptoms; the ALJ erred in failing to include manipulative
limitations in Plaintiff's RFC; and the ALJ failed to
properly weigh a treating physician's opinion.
argues that the ALJ played doctor in a number of ways. The
Seventh Circuit has cautioned ALJs not to succumb to the
temptation to play doctor. Murphy v. Astrue, 496
F.3d 630, 634 (7th Cir. 2012). The ALJs are said to have
impermissibly played doctor when they either reject a
doctor's medical conclusion without other evidence, or
when they draw medical conclusions themselves ...