United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
OPINION AND ORDER
S. VAN BOKKELEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Shirley R. 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
applied for disability insurance benefits under Titles II and
XVI. In her application, Plaintiff alleged that she became
disabled on August 13, 2007. (R. at 21.) After a hearing in
2017, the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) found
that Plaintiff suffered from the severe impairments of
degenerative joint disease of the right knee and degenerative
disc disease/spondylosis. (R. at 24.) The ALJ found that
Plaintiff is unable to perform any past relevant work. (R. at
30.) The ALJ did, however, find that a number of jobs existed
which Plaintiff could perform. (R. at 31.) Therefore, the ALJ
found her to be not disabled from August 13, 2007, the
alleged onset date. (R at 32.) 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 842 (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.
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 three reversible errors: the
ALJ erred in failing to evaluate Plaintiff's depressive
disorder, the ALJ improperly evaluated Plaintiff's
subjective symptoms, and the ALJ failed to consider evidence
that her condition deteriorated after the state agency
medical consultant reviewed her case.
asserts that the ALJ fatally erred in failing to discuss her
depression or acknowledge it as an impairment. Plaintiff
relies on a diagnosis from a nurse practitioner to support
her assertion that the ALJ should have considered her