United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
JENNIFER L. PLUSKIS SANTIAGO, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jennifer S. 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 and supplemental
security income under Titles II and XVI. In her application,
Plaintiff alleged that she became disabled on February 19,
2013. (R. at 16.) After a hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) in 2016, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff suffered from the severe impairments of a substance
abuse disorder, the late effects of a left wrist laceration,
a bipolar disorder, and a personality disorder. (R. at 19.)
The ALJ found that Plaintiff had no past relevant work. (R.
at 30.) The ALJ did, however, find that a number of jobs
existed which Plaintiff could perform. (R. at 31.) Therefore,
the ALJ found her to be not disabled. Id. 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 failed to accommodate Plaintiff's moderate
limitations in concentration, persistence, or pace; the ALJ
created an RFC without basis in medical evidence; the ALJ
erred in weighing medical opinion evidence; and the ALJ
failed to accommodate Plaintiff's mental impairments in
Concentration, Persistence, and Maintaining Pace
asserts that the ALJ erred by failing to account for
Plaintiff's limitations in concentration, persistence,
and maintaining pace in the RFC. The ALJ found that Plaintiff
had moderate limitations in her ability to concentrate,
persist, or maintain pace. (R. at 21.) The ALJ found that
Plaintiff had the capacity to complete simple, routine and
repetitive tasks and could tolerate occasional exposure to
co-workers and supervisors, but she couldn't interact
with the general public. (R. at ...