United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Jamie S. seeks judicial review of the Social Security
Commissioner’s decision denying his disability benefits
and asks this Court to remand the case. For the reasons
below, this Court remands the Administrative Law
Overview of the Case
applied for supplemental security income under Title XVI. In
his application, Plaintiff alleged that he became disabled on
March 22, 1994. (R. at 10.) After a hearing in 2017, the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found that
Plaintiff suffered from the severe impairments of anxiety and
depression. (R. at 12.) The ALJ found that Plaintiff has no
past relevant work. (R. at 19.) The ALJ did, however, find
that a number of jobs existed which Plaintiff could perform.
(R. at 19–20.) Therefore, the ALJ found him to be not
disabled since June 19, 2015, the date the application was
filed. (R. at 20.) This decision became final when the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff’s request for review.
(R. at 1.)
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, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 28 L.Ed.2d
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).
contends that the ALJ committed four reversible errors: the
ALJ erred in evaluating Plaintiff’s mental impairments
at steps two and three; the ALJ failed to properly account
for Plaintiff’s mental limitations in the RFC; the ALJ
improperly weighed medical opinion evidence; and the ALJ
erred in analyzing Plaintiff’s subjective symptoms.
Medical Opinion Evidence
argues that the ALJ erred in weighing the opinions of
consultative examiners Dr. Charles Balke and Dr. Alan Stage.
Plaintiff was examined by Dr. Stage in 2014, and the ALJ
failed to discuss Dr. Stage’s opinion, let alone afford