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Nagy v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

May 28, 2019

BARBRA JEAN NAGY, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Barbra Jean Nagy 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 remands the Administrative Law Judge's decision.

         A. Overview of the Case

         In her application, Plaintiff alleged that she became disabled on October 1, 2008. (R. at 23.) At a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) in 2017, Plaintiff amended her alleged onset date of disability to August 1, 2013. After the hearing, the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffered from the severe impairments of degenerative disc disease throughout the spine; L3 vertebroplasty and lumbar fusion surgeries; status post spinal cord stimulator implantation tension headaches/migraines; stress induced seizures; affective disorder; anxiety disorder and borderline personality disorder. (R. at 25.) The ALJ did, however, find that a number of jobs existed which Plaintiff could perform. (R. at 33.) Therefore, the ALJ found her to be not disabled since June 13, 2014, the date the application was filed. (R. at 34.) This decision became final when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (R. at 1.)

         B. Standard of Review

         This 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).

         C. Disability Standard

         The 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).

         D. Analysis

         Plaintiff contends that the ALJ committed three reversible errors: the ALJ erred in failing to consider the combined impact of all Plaintiff's impairments in the RFC; the ALJ improperly evaluated Plaintiff's subjective symptoms; and the ALJ cherry picked evidence that supported his conclusion while ignoring other relevant evidence.

         (1) Subjective Symptoms

         Plaintiff asserts that the ALJ erred in the subjective symptom analysis. An ALJ's subjective symptom analysis will be afforded “considerable deference” and will be overturned only if it is “patently wrong.” Prochaska v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 731, 738 (7th Cir. 2006) (citations omitted). In addressing Plaintiff's subjective symptoms, the ALJ must consider all the evidence ...


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