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Joyce W. v. Berryhill

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

June 3, 2019

JOYCE W., Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Joyce W. 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 affirms the Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ's”) decision.

         A. Overview of the Case

          Plaintiff alleges that she became disabled on June 6, 2014. (R. at 16.) She also applied for Supplemental Security Income benefits. (Id.) Plaintiff alleged to suffer from joint disease, degenerative disk disease, seizure disorder, diabetes mellitus, obesity, and depression. (R. at 19.) While the ALJ found that Plaintiff suffered from severe impairments, (Id.) she concluded that Plaintiff could perform past work as a receptionist, personnel clerk, and data entry clerk. (R. at 31.) Therefore, the ALJ denied benefits. (R. at 32.) This decision became final when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (R. at 7.)

         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 (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 argues that the ALJ erred in denying her disability benefits for the following reasons: (1) the ALJ did not explain her Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”) finding that Plaintiff can sit for six hours in an eight-hour workday; (2) the ALJ improperly found that Plaintiff's functional deficits were unsupported by the objective medical evidence; (3) the ALJ improperly determined that Plaintiff's seizures were the result of an overuse of pain medication; (4) the ALJ did not properly evaluate Plaintiff's mental impairments; (5) the ALJ did not properly evaluate the opinions of Plaintiff's treating physicians; and (6) the ALJ did not properly evaluate Plaintiff's symptoms. (Pl. Br. at 9-25.) None of these arguments present reversible error. Accordingly, the decision of the ALJ is affirmed.

         (1) The ALJ Sufficiently Explained Her Finding That Plaintiff Can Sit for ...


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