United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
OPINION AND ORDER
MICHAEL G. GOTSCH, SR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Vernon L. Collins seeks judicial review of the Social
Security Commissioner's decision denying his application
for a period of disability and Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) under Title II, as allowed under 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). This Court may enter a ruling in this
matter based on parties' consent pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B); 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). [DE 15]. For
the reasons below, the Court reverses and remands the
decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Overview of the Case
Collins alleges an onset of disability on March 28, 2014,
based on lumbar radiculopathy, lumbar spondylosis, cervical
spondylosis, cervical radiculopathy, thoracic spondylosis,
removal of his right kidney due to stage one renal cancer,
high blood pressure, right motor cuff torn, and left shoulder
complex high-grade partial thickness tear. Collins completed
high school and an apprenticeship program for die setting.
Collins worked as a die setter from June 1994 through March
application for DIB on April 13, 2014, was denied initially
and upon reconsideration. Following an October 17, 2016,
video hearing, the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) issued a decision on January 12, 2017,
which affirmed the Social Security Administration's
(“SSA”) denial of benefits. The ALJ found that
Collins is unable to perform any past relevant work. [DE 10
at 29]. Further, the ALJ found that Collins has the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform sedentary
work as defined by the regulations with some limitations
[Id. at 24]. The ALJ found, based upon the testimony
of the vocational expert, that Collins has the ability to
meet the requirements for employment as a circuit board
assembler, address clerk, and call out operator as those jobs
are defined by the Dictionary of Occupational Titles
(“DOT”). [Id. at 30]. Based upon these
findings, the ALJ denied Collins' claims for benefits.
order to qualify for DIB, a claimant must be
“disabled” under the Social Security Act
(“Act”). A person is disabled under the Act if
“he or she has an inability to engage in any
substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
twelve months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).
Commissioner's five-step inquiry in evaluating claims for
disability benefits under the Act includes determinations as
to: (1) whether the claimant is doing substantial gainful
activity (“SGA”); (2) whether the claimant's
impairments are severe; (3) whether any of the claimant's
impairments, alone or in combination, meet or equal one of
the Listings in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Part 404; (4)
whether the claimant can perform her past relevant work based
upon her RFC; and (5) whether the claimant is capable of
making an adjustment to other work. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520; see also 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).
Standard of Review
Court has authority to review a disability decision by the
Commissioner pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). However,
this Court's role in reviewing Social Security cases is
limited. Elder v. Astrue, 529 F.3d 408, 413 (7th
Cir. 2008). A court reviews the entire administrative record,
but does not reconsider facts, re-weigh the evidence, resolve
conflicts of evidence, decide questions of credibility, or
substitute its judgment for that of the ALJ. Boiles v.
Barnhart, 395 F.3d 421, 425 (7th Cir. 2005). The Court
must give deference to the ALJ's decision so long as it
is supported by substantial evidence. Thomas v.
Colvin, 745 F.3d 802, 806 (7th Cir. 2014) (citing
Similia v. Astrue, 573 F.3d 503, 513 (7th Cir.
2009)). The deference for the ALJ's decision is lessened
where the ALJ's findings contain errors of fact or logic
or fail to apply the correct legal standard. Schomas v.
Colvin, 732 F.3d 702, 709 (7th Cir. 2013).
an ALJ's decision cannot be affirmed if it lacks
evidentiary support or an inadequate discussion of the
issues. Lopez v. Barnhart, 336 F.3d 535, 539 (7th
Cir. 2003). An ALJ's decision will lack sufficient
evidentiary support and require remand if it is clear that
the ALJ “cherry-picked” the record to support a
finding of non-disability. Denton v. Astrue, 596
F.3d 419, 425 (7th Cir. 2010); see also Wilson v.
Colvin, 48 F.Supp.3d 1140, 1147 (N.D. Ill. 2014). At a
minimum, an ALJ must articulate his analysis of the record to
allow the reviewing court to trace the path of his reasoning
and to be assured the ALJ has considered the important
evidence in the record. Scott v. Barnhart, 297 F.3d
589, 595 (7th Cir. 2002). While the ALJ need not specifically
address every piece of evidence in the record to present the
requisite “logical bridge” from the evidence to
his conclusions, the ALJ must at least provide a glimpse into
the reasoning behind his analysis and the decision to deny
benefits. O'Connor-Spinner v. Astrue, 627 F.3d
614, 618 (7th Cir. 2010); see also Minnick v.
Colvin, 775 F.3d 929, 935 (7th Cir. 2015).
the question upon judicial review is not whether the claimant
is, in fact, disabled, but whether the ALJ used “the
correct legal standards and the decision [was] supported by
substantial evidence.” Roddy v. Astrue, 705
F.3d 631, 636 (7th Cir. 2007). Substantial evidence must be
“more than a scintilla but may be less than a
preponderance.” Skinner v. Astrue, 478 F.3d
836, 841 (7th. Cir. 2007). Thus, substantial evidence is
simply “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971);
Summers v. Berryhill, 864 F.3d 523, 526 (7th Cir.
2017); Kepple v. Massanari, 268 F.3d 513, 516 (7th.