United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
GILBERT H. VERA JR., Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Gilbert H. Vera Jr. seeks judicial review of the Social
Security Commissioner's decision denying his 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
alleges that he became disabled on October 1, 2013. (R. at
252.) His date last insured is June 30, 2015. (R. at 258.) He
also applied for Supplemental Security Income benefits. (R.
at 252.) Plaintiff most recently worked at a grocery store.
(R. at 266.) This may have counted as substantial gainful
activity, which would disqualify Plaintiff, but the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) gave Plaintiff
the benefit of the doubt and found that it did not. (R. at
17.) The ALJ found that Plaintiff suffered from severe
impairments. (R. at 17.) However, the ALJ concluded that he
could perform jobs that existed in significant numbers. (R.
at 26.) Therefore, the ALJ denied benefits. (R. at 21.) 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 (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 ignored evidence of his hand limitations and
failed to account for his moderate concentration limitations.
While the record might support the ALJ's decision, the
ALJ did not adequately explain his conclusions; this Court
must therefore remand.
The ALJ Must Address Evidence of ...