United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
ENTRY REVIEWING THE COMMISSIONER’S
J. DINSMORE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Norma T. applied for disability insurance benefits
(“DIB”) from the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”) on October 25, 2013, alleging an onset
date of September 15, 2013. [Filing No. 6-7 at 2.]
On November 4, 2013, she applied for supplemental security
income (“SSI”). [Filing No. 6-7 at 4.]
Her applications were initially denied on January 31, 2014,
[Filing No. 6-5 at 2; Filing No. 6-5 at 6],
and upon reconsideration on June 2, 2014, [Filing No. 6-5
at 17; Filing No. 6-5 at 24]. Administrative
Law Judge B. Lloyd Blair conducted a hearing on November 12,
2015, [Filing No. 6-2 at 44-61], and issued an
unfavorable decision on January 19, 2016, [Filing No. 6-4
at 56]. On January 30, 2017, the Appeals Council vacated
the January 19, 2016 decision and remanded Norma T.’s
applications to an Administrative Law Judge. [Filing No.
6-4 at 82-83.] Administrative Law Judge Shane McGovern
(the “ALJ”) conducted another hearing on July 14,
2017. [Filing No. 6-3 at 5-70.] The ALJ issued a
decision on September 21, 2017, concluding that Norma T. was
not entitled to receive DIB or SSI. [Filing No. 6-2 at
8.] The Appeals Council denied review on May 12, 2018.
[Filing No. 6-2 at 2.] On June 28, 2018, Norma T.
timely filed this civil action asking the Court to review the
denial of benefits according to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
[Filing No. 1.]
Social Security Act authorizes payment of disability
insurance benefits … to individuals with
disabilities.” Barnhart v. Walton, 535 U.S.
212, 214 (2002). “The statutory definition of
‘disability’ has two parts. First, it requires a
certain kind of inability, namely, an inability to engage in
any substantial gainful activity. Second, it requires an
impairment, namely, a physical or mental impairment, which
provides reason for the inability. The statute adds that the
impairment must be one that has lasted or can be expected to
last … not less than 12 months.” Id. at
applicant appeals an adverse benefits decision, this
Court’s role is limited to ensuring that the ALJ
applied the correct legal standards and that substantial
evidence exists for the ALJ’s decision. Barnett v.
Barnhart, 381 F.3d 664, 668 (7th Cir. 2004) (citation
omitted). For the purpose of judicial review,
“[s]ubstantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id. (quotation omitted). Because
the ALJ “is in the best position to determine the
credibility of witnesses,” Craft v. Astrue,
539 F.3d 668, 678 (7th Cir. 2008), this Court must accord the
ALJ’s credibility determination “considerable
deference,” overturning it only if it is
“patently wrong.” Prochaska v. Barnhart,
454 F.3d 731, 738 (7th Cir. 2006) (quotations omitted).
must apply the five-step inquiry set forth in 20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i)-(v), evaluating the following, in
(1) whether the claimant is currently [un]employed; (2)
whether the claimant has a severe impairment; (3) whether the
claimant’s impairment meets or equals one of the
impairments listed by the [Commissioner]; (4) whether the
claimant can perform her past work; and (5) whether the
claimant is capable of performing work in the national
Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir. 2000)
(citations omitted) (alterations in original). “If a
claimant satisfies steps one, two, and three, she will
automatically be found disabled. If a claimant satisfies
steps one and two, but not three, then she must satisfy step
four. Once step four is satisfied, the burden shifts to the
SSA to establish that the claimant is capable of performing
work in the national economy.” Knight v.
Chater, 55 F.3d 309, 313 (7th Cir. 1995).
Step Three, but before Step Four, the ALJ must determine a
claimant’s residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) by evaluating “all limitations that
arise from medically determinable impairments, even those
that are not severe.” Villano v. Astrue, 556
F.3d 558, 563 (7th Cir. 2009). In doing so, the ALJ
“may not dismiss a line of evidence contrary to the
ruling.” Id. The ALJ uses the RFC at Step Four
to determine whether the claimant can perform her own past
relevant work and if not, at Step Five to determine whether
the claimant can perform other work. See20 C.F.R.
§ 404.1520(iv), (v). The burden of proof is on the
claimant for Steps One through Four; only at Step Five does
the burden shift to the Commissioner. See
Clifford, 227 F.3d at 868.
ALJ committed no legal error and substantial evidence exists
to support the ALJ’s decision, the Court must affirm
the denial of benefits. Barnett, 381 F.3d at 668.
When an ALJ’s decision is not supported by substantial
evidence, a remand for further proceedings is typically the
appropriate remedy. Briscoe ex rel. Taylor v.
Barnhart, 425 F.3d 345, 355 (7th Cir. 2005). An award of
benefits “is appropriate only where all factual issues
have been resolved and the record can yield but one
supportable conclusion.” Id. (citation
T. was 50 years of age at the time she alleged her disability
began. [Filing No. 6-7 at 2.] She has completed four
years of college, earned a real estate license, and
previously worked in administration and property management.
[Filing No. 6-8 at 17-18.]
followed the five-step sequential evaluation set forth by the
Social Security Administration in 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520(a)(4) and ultimately concluded that Norma T. was not
disabled. [Filing No. 6-2 at 26.] Specifically, the
ALJ found as follows:
• At Step One, Norma T. had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since September 15, 2013, the alleged
onset date. [Filing No. 6-2 at 14.]
• At Step Two, she had “the following severe
impairments: diabetes type II; degenerative changes of the
spine, acromegaly and pituitary gigantism; hypothyroidism;
plantar fasciitis; major depressive disorder; panic disorder
without agoraphobia; mild neurocognitive disorder and
cognitive disorder [not otherwise specified].”
[Filing No. 6-2 at 14 (internal citations omitted).]
• At Step Three, she did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the
severity of one of the listed ...