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Tasha G. v. Saul

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

July 31, 2019

TASHA G., Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Tasha 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 decision.

         A. Overview of the Case

         Plaintiff applied for supplemental security income under Title II. In her application, Plaintiff alleged that she became disabled on April 4, 2014. (R. at 22.) After a hearing in 2017, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that Plaintiff suffered from the severe impairments of obesity, history of Grave's disease with residual hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, disorders of the spine (including cervical and lumbar facet arthropathy, radiculopathy, and anterior wedging at ¶ 1), occipital neuralgia, left trochanteric bursitis, PTSD, anxiety, and mood disorder. (R. at 24.) The ALJ found that Plaintiff is no longer capable of performing 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 from April 4, 2014, the alleged onset date, through June 30, 2017, the date last insured. (Id.) This decision became final when the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review. (R. at 1.)

         B. Standard of Review

         This 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).

         C. Disability Standard

         The 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).

         D. Analysis

         Plaintiff contends that the ALJ committed three reversible errors: the RFC determination was not supported by substantial evidence; the ALJ erred in analyzing Plaintiff's subjective symptoms; and the ALJ failed to properly evaluate statements from a third party.

         (1) RFC

         The ALJ stated that her RFC determination was “generally consistent with or somewhat more restrictive” than the ...


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