United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Daneen R. Green seeks judicial review of the Social Security
Commissioner's decision denying her 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
is Plaintiff's third appearance before an administrative
law judge (“ALJ”) to obtain disability benefits.
Her first attempt ended in failure. (R. at 87.) Rather than
seek recourse with this Court, Plaintiff filed another
disability application with an alleged onset date of July 9,
2011, one day after the unfavorable decision. (R. at 170.) A
different ALJ denied the new application. (R. at 24.) This
time, Plaintiff sought review in this Court, but the parties
agreed to remand the case. (R. at 816.) The Appeals Council
then sent Plaintiff back to the second ALJ for another
hearing. (R. at 826-28). In the meantime, Plaintiff filed yet
another application for benefits, which the ALJ consolidated.
(R. at 828.) At Plaintiff's new hearing-her third-the ALJ
found that she suffered from several severe physical and
mental impairments, notably bipolar disorder and generalized
anxiety disorder. (R. at 675). But the ALJ again concluded
she could perform jobs that existed in significant numbers.
(R. at 683.) Therefore, the ALJ denied her benefits. (R. at
684.) That 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.
argues the ALJ (1) failed to properly recognize many of her
alleged symptoms; (2) mis-weighed a medical opinion; and (3)
improperly translated her concentration, persistence, and
pace issues into skill limitations. While the ALJ's
decision is not as flawed as Plaintiff asserts, the ALJ left
open an entire line of evidence, thus ruining his accurate
and logical bridge. This Court must therefore
The ALJ Must Address Plaintiff's ...