United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Kimberley Delicha McCollum 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.
Overview of the Case
application, Plaintiff alleged that she became disabled on
May 1, 2011. (R. at 18.) After a video hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) in 2016, the ALJ
found that Plaintiff suffered from the severe impairments of
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, right trigger
finger, bilateral foot impairment, and obesity. (R. at 20.)
The ALJ did, however, find that a number of jobs existed
which Plaintiff could perform. (R. at 27-28.) Therefore, the
ALJ found her to be not disabled. (R. at 34.) 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).
contends that the ALJ committed four reversible errors: the
ALJ erred in weighing the medical opinion, in the RFC
determination, in relying on improper VE testimony, and in
analyzing Plaintiff's subjective symptoms.
argues that the ALJ erred in weighing the opinion of treating
podiatrist Dr. Ahmad Elsamad, DPM. Dr. Elsamad provided a
written opinion on June 3, 2013. (R. at 343.) Dr. Elsamad
opined that Plaintiff could not perform the essential
elements of her job as a U.S. Postal Carrier from February
2008 through the date of the opinion. He then described the
portions of the job that Plaintiff could no longer perform,
such as standing; using her feet, ankles, and legs throughout
the day; bending, reaching, lifting, and casing mail; lifting
up to seventy pounds; being able to enter and exit a vehicle
repeatedly throughout the day; loading large trays of mail
into a vehicle; and driving a vehicle throughout the day.
Id. Dr. Elsamad stated that Plaintiff suffered from
“metadetcus, ” chronic foot pain, swelling, foot