United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
ANGELA M. ECHTERLING, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Angela Marie Echterling 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 affirms the ALJ's decision.
Overview of the Case
Plaintiff alleges that she became disabled on January 1,
2000. (R. at 13.) Plaintiff most recently worked as a shift
manager at a bowling alley, but she has not worked since
2001. (R. at 253.) The Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) found that Plaintiff suffered from the
severe physical impairments of fibromyalgia and degenerative
disc disease. (R. at 15.) However, the ALJ concluded the
Plaintiff could perform jobs that existed in significant
numbers. (R. at 21-22.) Therefore, the ALJ denied her
benefits. (R. at 22.) 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) 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 claimant bears the burden of proof at every step
except step five. Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863,
868 (7th Cir. 2000).
argues that the ALJ erred in finding that she was not
disabled. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that the ALJ's
decision was not supported by substantial evidence in the
record (particularly in reference to her medical records) and
that the ALJ erred in evaluating her degenerative disc
disease and subjective symptoms.
The ALJ Properly Weighed and Considered Medical
Plaintiff first takes issue with the ALJ's interpretation
of the medical evidence. Plaintiff states that the ALJ
misinterpreted medical files that were ambiguous, but she
does not explain what ...