United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division
DAVID E. SNIDER Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
Michael G. Gotsch, Sr. United States Magistrate Judge
David E. Snider (“Snider”) filed his complaint in
this Court seeking reversal of the Social Security
Commissioner's final decision to deny his application for
Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles
II and XVI of the Social Security Act. This Court may enter a
ruling in this matter based on the parties' consent
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). For the reasons discussed below, the Court
reverses and remands the decision of the Commissioner of the
Social Security Administration (“SSA”).
Overview of the Case
alleges an onset of disability on August 30, 2013, based on
limitations arising from permanent nerve damage in his right
arm, chronic back pain, lumbar degenerative disc disease,
spina bifida, bilateral carpal tunnel, diabetes, chronic
ankle pain, poor memory and balance issues following a
stroke, vascular dementia, cervicalgia/cervicogenic
headaches, and cubital tunnel syndrome. Snider was 50 years
old on the alleged onset date. Snider completed high school
and worked as a shipping and receiving clerk and a tractor
trailer truck driver before the alleged onset date.
applications for DIB and SSI on December 19, 2014, were
denied initially and upon reconsideration. Following a March
9, 2017, hearing, the Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) issued a decision on April 17, 2017,
affirming the SSA's denial of benefits. The ALJ found
that Snider is not able to perform any past relevant work.
[DE 10 at 54- 55]. The ALJ reached this conclusion after
finding that Snider has (1) moderate limitations in
understanding, remembering, or applying information;
interacting with others; concentrating, persisting, or
maintaining pace; and adapting or managing himself and (2)
the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform light work as defined by the Social Security
regulations with some limitations. [Id. at
48-49]. The ALJ further found, based upon the testimony of
the vocational expert, that Snider can to meet the
requirements for employment as a bench assembler, electronics
worker, and production assembler as those jobs are defined by
the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. [Id. at 55].
Accordingly, the ALJ denied Snider's claims for benefits.
February 7, 2018, the Appeals Council denied Snider's
request for review, making the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner.
order to qualify for DIB or SSI, a claimant must be
“disabled” under the Social Security Act
(“Act”). A person is disabled under the Act if
“he or she has an inability to engage in any
substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically
determinable physical or mental impairment which can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
twelve months.” 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A).
Commissioner's five-step inquiry in evaluating claims for
disability benefits under the Act includes determinations as
to: (1) whether the claimant is doing substantial gainful
activity (“SGA”); (2) whether the claimant's
impairments are severe; (3) whether any of the claimant's
impairments, alone or in combination, meet or equal one of
the Listings in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of Part 404; (4)
whether the claimant can perform her past relevant work based
upon her RFC; and (5) whether the claimant is capable of
making an adjustment to other work. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520; see also 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).
Standard of Review
judicial review, the Act requires that the Court accept the
Commissioner's factual findings as conclusive if
supported by substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g);
Clifford, 227 F.3d at 869. Thus, a court reviewing
the findings of an ALJ will reverse only if the findings are
not supported by substantial evidence or if the ALJ has
applied an erroneous legal standard. Briscoe v.
Barnhart, 425 F.3d 345, 351 (7th Cir. 2005). Substantial
evidence must be “more than a scintilla but may be less
than a preponderance.” Skinner v. Astrue, 478
F.3d 836, 841 (7th Cir. 2007). Thus, substantial evidence is
simply “such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971);
Kepple v. Massanari, 268 F.3d 513, 516 (7th Cir.
reviews the entire administrative record but does not
reconsider facts, re-weigh the evidence, resolve conflicts in
evidence, decide questions of credibility or substitute its
judgment for that of the ALJ. Boiles v. Barnhart,
395 F.3d 421, 425 (7th Cir. 2005). Thus, the question upon
judicial review is not whether the claimant is, in fact,
disabled, but whether the ALJ “uses the correct legal
standards and the decision is supported by substantial
evidence.” Roddy v. Astrue, 705 F.3d 631, 636
(7th Cir. 2013). The ALJ must build a logical bridge from the
evidence to his conclusion and a reviewing court is not to
substitute its own opinion for that of the ALJ, or to
re-weigh the evidence. Haynes v. Barnhart, 416 F.3d
621, 626 (7th Cir. 2005). Even if an ALJ commits a legal or
factual error, the error does not warrant remand unless it is
harmful. Parker v. Astrue, 597 F.3d 920, 924 (7th
an ALJ must articulate his analysis of the evidence to allow
the reviewing court to trace the path of his reasoning and to
be assured that the ALJ considered the important evidence.
Scott v. Barnhart, 297 F.3d 589, 595 (7th Cir.
2005). In reaching his decision, an ALJ must “consider
all relevant medical evidence and cannot simply cherry-pick
facts that support a finding of non-disability while ignoring
evidence that points to a disability finding.”
Denton v. Astrue, 596 F.3d 419, 425 (7th Cir. 2010).
However, the ALJ need not specifically address every piece of
evidence in the record to present the requisite
“logical bridge” from the evidence to his
conclusions. O'Connor-Spinner v. Astrue, 627
F.3d 614, 618 (7th Cir. 2010). The ALJ must simply provide a
glimpse into the reasoning behind his analysis and the
decision to deny benefits. Zurawski v. Halter, 245
F.3d 881, 889 (7th Cir. 2001).