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John B. v. Saul

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

September 6, 2019

JOHN B., Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security Administration, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH S. VAN BOKKELEN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff John B. seeks judicial review of the Social Security Commissioner's decision denying him disability benefits and asks this Court to remand the case. For the reasons below, this Court affirms the Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ's”) decision.

         A. Overview of the Case

         Plaintiff alleges that he became disabled on July 31, 1996. (R. at 15.) According to him, he suffers from obesity, Asperger's, bipolar disorder, borderline intellectual functioning, and impulse control disorder. (R. at 18.) Plaintiff worked regularly at an industrial bakery between December 2016 and February 2017. (R. at 23.) While the ALJ found that Plaintiff's work experience did not constitute substantial gainful employment, (R. at 17) she concluded that Plaintiff could perform work as a dishwasher, cleaner, or an order picker. (R. at 24.) Therefore, the ALJ denied benefits. (R. at 25.) 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 (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 argues that the ALJ erred by: (1) not incorporating limitations from all medically determinable impairments into the Residual Functional Capacity (“RFC”); (2) overemphasizing Plaintiff's daily and part-time work activities; and (3) relying at Step 5 (of the Commissioner's inquiry) on a vocational expert (“VE”) who lacked proper foundation for a substantial number of remaining jobs. (Pl. Br. at 10-15.) Plaintiff's claims do not present cause for remand. Therefore, this Court affirms the ALJ's decision.

         (1) The ALJ Included Plaintiff's Mental ...


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