United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Malonda 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
alleges that she became disabled on November 14, 2014. (R. at
15.) Plaintiff alleged to suffer from degenerative disk
disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and obesity. (R. at
17.) The ALJ noted that Plaintiff also suffered from deep
vein thrombosis beginning in December 2016. (Id.)
However, medication and bed rest alleviated the pain caused
by this condition. (R. at 18.) While the ALJ found that
Plaintiff suffered from severe impairments (R. at 17), she
concluded that Plaintiff could perform jobs that existed in
significant numbers (R. at 25- 26). Therefore, the ALJ denied
benefits. (R. at 26.) This decision became final when the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review.
(R. at 5.)
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 (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.
claimant bears the burden of proof at every step except step
five. Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir.
argues that the ALJ improperly evaluated the physician
opinions and did not address evidence of her hand
limitations. (Pl. Br. at 6, 18.) While the record might
support the ALJ's decision, the ALJ did not adequately
explain her conclusions. Therefore, this Court must remand.
The ALJ Improperly Evaluated the Opinions of ...