United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
Andrew H. (“Andrew”) has appealed the final
decision of the Commissioner (“Commissioner”) of
the Social Security Administration (“SSA”)
denying his September 29, 2014, application for disability
insurance benefits (“DIB”). R. (Dkt. 5) at 16.
The application was initially denied on December 3, 2014, R.
at 128, and upon reconsideration on February 23, 2015. R. at
133. The administrative law judge (“ALJ”)
conducted a hearing on December 8, 2016, R. at 66, and a
supplemental hearing on February 7, 2017, R. at 37, resulting
in a decision on April 12, 2017, that Andrew was not disabled
and thus not entitled to receive DIB. R. at 13. The Appeals
Council denied review on March 5, 2018, and the
Commissioner's decision became final. R. at 1. On May 1,
2018, Andrew timely filed this civil action seeking judicial
review of the decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
reasons below, the decision is reversed and the case remanded
for action consistent with this order.
followed the five-step sequential evaluation set forth by the
SSA, see 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4)(i) to (v),
in concluding that Andrew was not disabled. Specifically, the
ALJ found as follows:
• Andrew last met the insured status requirements for
DIB on December 31, 2015 (the date last insured or
“DLI”). R. at 18.
• At Step One, Andrew had not engaged in substantial
gainful activity since the alleged onset date of
• At Step Two, he had the following severe impairments:
“status post cervical spinal cord injury with
associated neuropathy of the upper extremities and allodynia
of T11 dermatome.” Id. (citation omitted).
• At Step Three, he did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the
severity of one of the listed impairments. R. at 20.
• After Step Three but before Step Four, Andrew had the
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) “to
perform light work as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(b) except he
can lift and carry twenty pounds occasionally and ten pounds
frequently. He can stand and/or walk six of eight hours and
sit six of eight hours with normal breaks. He can never climb
ropes, ladders, or scaffolds. He can occasionally climb ramps
and stairs. He can perform all other postural activities
frequently. He must avoid all use of dangerous moving
machinery and exposure to unprotected heights. He must avoid
constant exposure to excessive vibration. He can tolerate a
noise level of 3. He must be allowed to be off task not to
exceed 10% of the workday and absent one day per
month.” R. at 21.
• At Step Four, relying on the testimony of the
vocational expert (“VE”) and considering
Andrew's RFC, he was capable of performing his past
relevant work as a production manager and purchasing agent.
R. at 26.
• In the alternative, at Step Five, relying on the
testimony of the VE and in light of Andrew's age (54
years of age on the DLI), education (at least a high school
graduate), and RFC, there were jobs that existed in
significant numbers in the national economy that he could
have performed using transferrable skills acquired through
his past work, including office record keeping skills,
supervising, hiring, firing, and scheduling. R. at 27-28.
Additionally, considering those same factors, there were
unskilled jobs at the light exertional level that he could
have performed, including as a cashier, sales attendant, and
collator operator. R. at 28.
review of the Commissioner's decision,
[w]e will uphold [it] if it applies the correct legal
standard and is supported by substantial evidence.
Castile v. Astrue, 617 F.3d 923, 926 (7th Cir.
2010). Substantial evidence is “‘such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.'” Id. (quoting
Skinner v. Astrue, 478 F.3d 836, 841 (7th Cir.
2007)). A decision denying benefits need not discuss every
piece of evidence, but if it lacks an adequate discussion of
the issues, it will be remanded. Villano v. Astrue,
556 F.3d 558, 562 (7th Cir. 2009). Our review is limited to
the reasons articulated by the ALJ in her decision.
Larson v. Astrue, 615 F.3d 744, 749 (7th Cir. 2010).
Campbell v. Astrue, 627 F.3d 299, 306 (7th Cir.
2010). In determining whether the decision was properly
supported, we neither reweigh the evidence nor assess the
credibility of witness, nor substitute our judgment for the
Commissioner's. Lopez ex rel. ...