United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Terre Haute Division
ENTRY ON JUDICIAL REVIEW
J. DINSMORE JUDGE
requests judicial review of the final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”) denying her application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”).
See42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423(d),
1382c(a)(3)(A). For the reasons set forth below, the
Commissioner's decision is REVERSED AND
filed an application for DIB on April 23, 2015. [Dkt.
10-2 at 18.] Soon thereafter, on May 14, 2015, Claimant
also filed an application for SSI. [Id.] In both
applications, Claimant alleged an onset disability date of
January 10, 2015. [Id.] Claimant alleges disability
due to mild lumbar degenerative disease, disc herniation with
radiculopathy, mild cervical degenerative disc disease, and
fibromyalgia. [Id. at 21.] Claimant's
application was initially denied on July 28, 2015, and denied
again on November 23, 2015, upon reconsideration.
[Id. at 18.] Claimant timely filed a written request
for a hearing, which was held on May 24, 2017, before
Administrative Law Judge Michael S. Worrall
(“ALJ”). [Id.] The ALJ issued a decision
on September 28, 2017, again denying Claimant's
applications for SSI. [Id. at 15.] On July 17, 2018,
the Appeals Council denied Claimant's request for review,
making the ALJ's decision the final decision for the
purposes of judicial review. [Id. at 4.] Claimant
timely filed her Complaint with this Court on September 19,
2018, which Complaint is now before the Court. [SeeDkt.
eligible for DIB or SSI, a claimant must have a disability
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423. Disability is defined as
the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful
activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or
mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or
which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous
period of not less than 12 months.” 42 U.S.C. §
determine whether a claimant is disabled, the Commissioner,
as represented by the ALJ, employs a five-step sequential
analysis: (1) if the claimant is engaged in substantial
gainful activity, he is not disabled; (2) if the claimant
does not have a “severe” impairment, one that
significantly limits his ability to perform basic work
activities, he is not disabled; (3) if the claimant's
impairment or combination of impairments meets or medically
equals any impairment appearing in the Listing of
Impairments, 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpart P, App. 1, the
claimant is disabled; (4) if the claimant is not found to be
disabled at step three and she is able to perform her past
relevant work, she is not disabled; and (5) if the claimant
is not found to be disabled at step three and cannot perform
her past relevant work but she can perform certain other
available work, she is not disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520 (2012). Before continuing to step four, the ALJ
must assess the claimant's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”), by evaluating “all limitations
that arise from medically determinable impairments, even
those that were not severe.” Villano v.
Astrue, 556 F.3d 558, 563 (7th Cir. 2009).
ALJ's findings of fact are conclusive and must be upheld
by this Court “so long as substantial evidence supports
them and no error of law occurred.” Dixon v.
Massanari, 270 F.3d 1171, 1176 (7th Cir. 2007). This
Court may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its
judgement for that of the ALJ but may only determine whether
substantial evidence supports the ALJ's conclusion.
Overman v. Astrue, 546 F.3d 456, 462 (7th Cir. 2008)
(citing Schmidt v. Apfel, 201 F.3d 970, 972 (7th
Cir. 2000)); Skinner v. Astrue, 478 F.3d 836, 841
(7th Cir. 2007). When an applicant appeals an adverse
benefits decision, this Court's role is limited to
ensuring that the ALJ applied the correct legal standards and
that substantial evidence exists for the ALJ's decision.
Barnett v. Barnhart, 381 F.3d 664, 668 (7th Cir.
2004). For the purpose of judicial review,
“[s]ubstantial evidence is such relevant evidence as a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Id.Because the ALJ “is in
the best position to determine the credibility of witnesses,
” Craft v. Astrue, 539 F.3d 668, 678 (7th Cir.
2008), this Court must accord the ALJ's credibility
determination “considerable deference, ”
overturning it only if it is “patently wrong.”
Prochsaka v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 731, 738 (7th Cir.
2006). While the ALJ must base his decision on all of the
relevant evidence, Herron v. Shalala, 19 F.3d 329,
333 (7th Cir. 1994), and must “provide some glimpse
into his reasoning” to “build an accurate and
logical bridge from the evidence to his conclusion, ”
he need not “address every piece of evidence or
testimony.” Dixon, 270 F.3d at 1176.
The ALJ's Decision
first determined that Claimant has not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since January 10, 2015, the alleged onset
date. [Dkt. 10-2 at 20.] At step two, the ALJ
determined that Claimant “has the following severe
impairments: mild lumbar degenerative disc disease; disc
herniation with radiculopathy; mild cervical degenerative
disc disease; and fibromyalgia.” [Id. at 21.]
However, at step three, the ALJ found that Claimant
“does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments . . . .” [Id. at
25.] In making this determination, the ALJ considered
Listings 1.04 (Disorders of the Spine), 11.14 (Peripheral
Neuropathies), 14.09 (Inflammatory Arthritis), as well as SSR
12-2p. [Id. at 25-26.]
next analyzed Claimant's RFC. He concluded that Claimant
had the RFC to perform the following:
[L]ift and carry 20 pounds occasionally or 10 pounds
frequently. [Claimant] can sit 6 hours and stand for 2 hours
in an 8-hour workday, with normal breaks. She can push and
pull to the extent of her lifting and carrying capacity.
[Claimant] can occasionally climb . . . ramps, but never
climb stairs, ladders, ropes, or scaffolds. She can
occasionally balance or stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl.
[Claimant] should avoid concentrated exposure to wetness, and
never work at unprotected heights, around dangerous moving
machinery, or the operation of a motor vehicle as part of her
[Id. at 26-27.]
finding these limitations, the ALJ considered Claimant's
“symptoms and the extent to which these symptoms can
reasonably be accepted as consistent with the objective
medical evidence and other evidence . . . .”
[Id. at 27.] The ALJ then acknowledged that the
evidence presented could reasonably show that Claimant
suffers from some of the symptoms she alleges. [Id.
at 34.] However, the ALJ found that ...