United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
J. Dinsmore, United States Magistrate Judge
K. requests judicial review of the final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration
(“Commissioner”) denying her application for
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act (“the Act”).
See 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423(d),
1382c(a)(3)(A) (2018). For the reasons set forth below, the
Magistrate Judge recommends that the District Judge
REVERSE and REMAND the
decision of the Commissioner.
filed an application for SSI on June 30, 2015. Claimant
alleges disability due to problems with epilepsy, organic
brain disorder, anxiety, and depression. [Dkt. 8 at 3.]
Claimant's claim was initially denied on October 6, 2015,
and denied again on November 5, 2015, upon reconsideration.
[Dkt. 5-2 at 12.] Claimant timely filed a written request for
a hearing on December 1, 2015. [Dkt. 5-2 at 12.] The hearing
was held on August 11, 2017, before Administrative Law Judge
Kathleen Kadlec (“ALJ”). [Dkt. 5-2 at 12.] The
ALJ issued a decision on November 1, 2017, again denying
Claimant's application for SSI. [Dkt. 5-2 at 24.] The
ALJ's decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner when the Appeals Council denied Claimant's
request for review of the ALJ's decision. [Dkt. 5-2 at
2-5.] Claimant now seeks judicial review of the
eligible for 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, she is not disabled; (2) if the claimant
does not have a “severe” impairment, one that
significantly limits her ability to perform basic work
activities, she 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. p. 404, subpart P, App. 1, she 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. § 416.920. 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 judgment
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 a claimant 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 her decision on all of the
relevant evidence, Herron v. Shalala, 19 F.3d 329,
333 (7th Cir. 1994), and must “provide some glimpse
into [her] reasoning” to “build an accurate and
logical bridge from the evidence to [her] conclusion, ”
she need not “address every piece of evidence or
testimony.” Dixon, 270 F.3d at 1176.
The ALJ's Decision
first determined that Claimant had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since June 30, 2015, the application date.
[Dkt. 5-2 at 14.] At step two, the ALJ found that Claimant
“[had] the following severe impairments: epilepsy,
organic brain disorder, anxiety, and depression.” [Dkt.
5-2 at 14.] However, the ALJ found that although Claimant
does have “severe” impairments, Claimant
“does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments.” [Dkt. 5-2 at 15.]
making this determination, the ALJ considered all of the
listings described in Appendix I of the Regulations (20
C.F.R. pt. 404, subpart P, App. 1) and paid particular
attention to listings 11.02 (epilepsy), 12.02 (neurocognitive
disorders), 12.04 (depressive, bipolar and related
disorders), and 12.06 (anxiety and obsessive-compulsive
disorders). The ALJ set forth the criteria for listing 11.02
and concluded that the “medical records do not document
that the claimant has experienced seizures at listing 11.03
[sic] frequency.” [Dkt. 5-2 at 16.] Further, the ALJ
reasoned that (1) Claimant's allegation of seizures was
based upon Claimant's report to doctors and (2) Claimant
has not undergone any hospital treatment for seizures. [Dkt.
5-2 at 16.]
then considered listings 12.02, 12.04, and 12.06. The ALJ
determined that the “severity of the claimant's
mental impairments, considered singly and in combination, do
not meet or medically equal the criteria . . . .” [Dkt.
5-2 at 16.] In making this decision, the ALJ reviewed the
“paragraph B” criteria under each listing in
section 12. To satisfy the “paragraph B”
criteria, the mental impairments must result in at least one
extreme or two marked limitations in a broad area of
functioning which includes: (1) understanding, remembering,
or applying information; (2) interacting with others; (3)
concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace; or (4)
adapting or managing oneself. A marked limitation means
“functioning in this area independently, appropriately,
effectively, and on a sustained basis is seriously limited,
” while an extreme limitation is “the inability
to function independently, appropriately, or effectively, and
on a sustained basis.” [Dkt. 5-2 at 16.] Using the
criteria, the ALJ found that in understanding, remembering,
or applying information Claimant had a mild limitation. [Dkt.
5-2 at 16.] In interacting with others, Claimant had a
moderate limitation. [Dkt. 5-2 at 16.] Next, with
concentrating, persisting, or maintaining pace, Claimant also
had a moderate limitation. [Dkt. 5-2 at 17.] Lastly, as for
adapting or managing oneself, Claimant had a mild limitation.
[Dkt. 5-2 at 17.] Therefore, because Claimant's mental
impairments did not cause at least two “marked”
limitations or one “extreme” limitation, the
“paragraph B” criteria were not satisfied.
four, the ALJ analyzed Claimant's residual functional
capacity (“RFC”). The ALJ concluded:
[C]laimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
light work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(b). She can
lift/carry 20 pounds occasionally and 10 pounds frequently.
She can stand for 6 hours in an 8-hour workday. She can walk
for 6 hours. She can sit for 6 hours. She can push/pull as
much as she can lift/carry. She cannot climb ladders, ropes,
or scaffolds. She can frequently climb ramps and stairs. She
cannot work at unprotected heights or with moving mechanical
parts. She cannot operate a motor vehicle. She is limited to
simple, routine tasks and simple ...