United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Fort Wayne Division
MELISSA G. THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
William C. Lee, Judge
matter is before the court for judicial review of a final
decision of the defendant Commissioner of Social Security
Administration denying Plaintiff's application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), as provided for in the
Social Security Act. Section 205(g) of the Act provides,
inter alia, "[a]s part of his answer, the [Commissioner]
shall file a certified copy of the transcript of the record
including the evidence upon which the findings and decision
complained of are based. The court shall have the power to
enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a
judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of
the [Commissioner], with or without remanding the case for a
rehearing." It also provides, "[t]he findings of
the [Commissioner] as to any fact, if supported by
substantial evidence, shall be conclusive. . . ." 42
provides that an applicant for DIB must establish an
"inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity
by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental
impairment which can be expected to last for a continuous
period of no less than 12 months. . . ." 42 U.S.C.
§416(i)(1); 42 U.S.C. §423(d)(1)(A). A physical or
mental impairment is "an impairment that results from
anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities
which are demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques." 42 U.S.C.
§423(d)(3). It is not enough for a plaintiff to
establish that an impairment exists. It must be shown that
the impairment is severe enough to preclude the plaintiff
from engaging in substantial gainful activity. Gotshaw v.
Ribicoff, 307 F.2d 840 (7th Cir. 1962), cert. denied,
372 U.S. 945 (1963); Garcia v. Califano, 463 F.Supp.
1098 (N.D.Ill. 1979). It is well established that the burden
of proving entitlement to disability insurance benefits is on
the plaintiff. See Jeralds v. Richardson, 445 F.2d
36 (7th Cir. 1971); Kutchman v. Cohen, 425 F.2d 20
(7th Cir. 1970).
the foregoing framework, "[t]he question before [this
court] is whether the record as a whole contains substantial
evidence to support the [Commissioner's] findings."
Garfield v. Schweiker, 732 F.2d 605, 607 (7th Cir.
1984) citing Whitney v. Schweiker, 695 F.2d 784, 786
(7th Cir. 1982); 42 U.S.C. §405(g). "Substantial
evidence is defined as 'more than a mere scintilla. It
means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'"
Rhoderick v. Heckler, 737 F.2d 714, 715 (7th Cir.
1984) quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389,
401, 91 S.Ct. 1410, 1427 (1971); see Allen v.
Weinberger, 552 F.2d 781, 784 (7th Cir. 1977). "If
the record contains such support [it] must [be] affirmed, 42
U.S.C. §405(g), unless there has been an error of
law." Garfield, supra at 607; see
also Schnoll v. Harris, 636 F.2d 1146, 1150 (7th Cir.
present matter, after consideration of the entire record, the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) made the
1. The claimant meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act through December 31, 2019.
2. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since August 14, 2014, the alleged onset date (20
CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. The claimant has the severe impairments of lumbosacral
spondylosis without myelopathy, moderate thoracic scoliosis
but with mild levocurvature facet changes absent significant
disc disease or nerve impingement and with lumbago;
Crohn's disease; anxiety; and depression (Exhibits 1F to
17F) (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the
undersigned finds that the claimant has the residual
functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in
20 CFR 404.1567(a) with lifting/carrying/pushing/pulling 10
pounds frequently and occasionally and with sitting six hours
in an eight-hour workday and standing and/or walking two
hours in an eight-hour workday. As to additional limitations,
the claimant should not climb ropes, ladders or scaffolds.
The claimant can occasionally kneel, crouch, crawl, balance,
can occasionally bend and stoop in addition to what is
required to sit, and can occasionally use ramps and stairs.
Aside from the use of ramps and stairs on an occasional
basis, the claimant should not work upon uneven surfaces,
should avoid work within close proximity to open and exposed
heights, and should avoid open and dangerous machinery such
as open flames and fast moving exposed blades. The claimant
cannot drive motor vehicles or operate heavy machinery. The
claimant should avoid work within close proximity to very
loud noises (level 5) such as a fire alarm or very bright
flashing lights such as a strobe more than occasionally, and
needs to avoid extreme cold such as a refrigerator, or
outside in the winter. Mentally, the claimant is limited to
superficial interaction with coworkers, supervisors and the
public, and with superficial interaction defined as
occasional and casual contact not involving prolonged
conversation, while still allowing necessary contact with
supervisors for necessary instruction. In addition, prolonged
conversation is not necessary for task completion. The
claimant is limited to work that involves only simple,
routine and repetitive tasks that can be learned through
short demonstration and up to thirty days, she retains the
capacity to maintain the concentration required to perform
simple tasks, she can remember simple worklike procedures and
make simple work-related decisions. The claimant can maintain
the concentration and attention as well as the persistence to
perform such duties on a day-in and day-out basis, for eight
hours per day, five days per week or within some other form
of full time competitive work environment.
6. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born on February 25, 1972, and was 42
years old, which is defined as a younger individual age
18-44, on the alleged disability onset date. The claimant
subsequently changed age category to a younger individual age
45-49 (20 CFR 404.1563).
8. The claimant has at least a high school education and is
able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the
determination of disability because using the
Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding
that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or
not the claimant has transferable job ...