United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Christopher D. seeks judicial review of the Social Security
Commissioner's decision denying his 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 supplemental security income under Title XVI. In
his application, Plaintiff alleged that he became disabled on
September 21, 2014. (R. at 11.) After a video hearing in
2017, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found
that Plaintiff suffered from the severe impairments of human
immunodeficiency virus (“HIV”), depression, and
psoriasis. (R. at 24.) Plaintiff's HIV was found to be
meet Listing 14.11, and plaintiff was found to be disabled
from September 21, 2014 through June 21, 2016. (Id.)
Beginning June 22, 2016, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's
HIV no longer met listing level severity. (R. at 16.) The ALJ
also found that Plaintiff is no longer capable of performing
past relevant work. (R. at 19.) The ALJ did, however, find
that a number of jobs existed which Plaintiff could perform.
(R. at 20.) Therefore, the ALJ found him to be not disabled
as of June 22, 2016. (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 three reversible errors: the
ALJ erred in weighing the opinion of the treating physician,
the ALJ erred in weighing the opinion of the medical expert,
and the ALJ failed to properly analyze Plaintiff's mental
argues that the ALJ erred in weighing the opinion of his
treating physician, Dr. Hamid Safavi. A treating
physician's opinion is to be given controlling weight
because of the length and nature of the relationship unless
the ALJ provides good reasons for setting aside that opinion.
Brown v. Colvin, 845 F.3d 247, 252 (7th Cir. 2016).
When a treating physician's opinion is not entitled to
controlling weight, an ALJ must weigh it using such factors
such as: the examining relationship; the length of the
treatment relationship and the frequency of examination; the