United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Pamela Arnold 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
Overview of the Case
applied for disability insurance benefits under Title II and
supplemental security income under Title XVI. In her
applications, Plaintiff alleged that she became disabled on
March 1, 2008. (R. at 16.) Plaintiff's date last insured
was December 31, 2008. (R. at 16.) The Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) found that Plaintiff did not meet
her burden of proof in providing evidence to support
disability prior to her date last insured for her Title II
claim. As such, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's Title II
application at Step Two, and the remainder of the ALJ's
decision only regarded the Title XVI claim. (R. at 16-17.)
After a video hearing before an ALJ in 2015, the ALJ found
that Plaintiff suffered from the severe impairments of
seizure disorder, affective disorder, anxiety disorder, and
substance abuse disorder in remission. (R. at 19.) The ALJ
did, however, find that a number of jobs existed which
Plaintiff could perform. (R. at 31- 32.) Therefore, the ALJ
found her to be not disabled. (R. at 32.) 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 dismissing Plaintiff's Title II/Disability
Insurance Benefits claim, in evaluating Listings, in the
subjective symptom analysis, and in weighing medical opinion
Disability insurance benefits
filed applications for both Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Titles II and XVI. The ALJ
determined that Plaintiff did not establish a severe
impairment or combination of impairments prior to December
31, 2008, her date last insured. (R. at 15.) The ALJ found
that there were only two exhibits containing evidence prior
to the date last insured, and none of the evidence supported
a severe impairment. (R. at 16.) Plaintiff argues that there
are multiple mentions of her impairments before the date last
insured. However, all the records that Plaintiff cites to are
self-reported pain. For instance, Plaintiff states in a May
2015 pain management visit that she has struggled with back
pain since 2006 that required an epidural. (R. at 1034.)
However, there is no medical evidence in the record (outside
of statements from Plaintiff) that supports this assertion.
Plaintiff also asserts that she began having seizures prior
to the date last insured, but there is ...