United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Marilyn G. 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 August 26,
2014. (R. at 10.) After a hearing in 2016, the Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that Plaintiff suffered
from the severe impairments of congestive heart failure
(“CHF”), deficiency anemias, and essential
hypertension. (R. at 12.) The ALJ found that Plaintiff is
unable to perform any past relevant work. (R. at 16.) The ALJ
did, however, find that a number of jobs existed which
Plaintiff could perform. (R. at 17-18.) 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 erred at Step Three in failing to find Plaintiff's
CHF did not meet or equal listing 4.02; the ALJ erred in
weighing Plaintiff's subjective symptoms; the ALJ
improperly weighed medical opinion evidence; and the ALJ
erred in accepting vocational testimony regarding the
availability of work.
argues that the ALJ erred in weighing the opinion of Dr.
Surendra Paes, M.D., Plaintiff's treating physician. Dr.
Paes opined that stress and anxiety contributed to the
severity of Plaintiff's heart failure. (R. at 617.)
Moreover, he opined that Plaintiff could walk less than one
block, sit for only thirty minutes at a time, stand for only
ten minutes at a time, and sit or stand for less than two
hours total in the day. Id. Dr. Paes also opined