United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division
RAYMOND E. WADKINS JR., Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.
FINDINGS, REPORT, AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES
MAGISTRATE JUDGE PURSUANT TO 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B)
P. KOLAR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on a Complaint [DE 1], filed on
October 29, 2018, and Plaintiff's Brief in Support of His
Motion to Reverse the Decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security [DE 15], filed on March 15, 2019. Defendant filed a
response on May 1, 2019, and Plaintiff filed a reply on June
February 27, 2019, District Court Judge Robert L. Miller, Jr.
entered an Order [DE 14] referring this matter to the
undersigned Magistrate Judge for a report and recommendation
on the instant motion pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(B). This Report constitutes the undersigned
Magistrate Judge's combined proposed findings and
recommendations pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C).
For the following reasons, the Court recommends that the
District Court reverse the decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration and remand for further
proceedings consistent with this Report.
April 2, 2015, Plaintiff filed an application for
supplemental security income, alleging disability beginning
September 5, 2013. The application was denied initially and
on reconsideration. Plaintiff requested a hearing, which was
held on March 22, 2017. On August 24, 2017, the
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) issued an unfavorable
decision, making the following findings:
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since April 2, 2015, the application date.
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments: complex
regional pain syndrome of the right lower extremity,
degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine, mild
depression, radial nerve palsy in both wrists, and
degenerative joint disease in both knees.
3. The claimant does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P,
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, [the ALJ
found] that the claimant has the residual functional capacity
to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a)
except no crouching or climbing ladders ropes or scaffolds;
occasional kneeling, crawling, stooping, balancing and
climbing ramps and stairs; frequent handling and fingering
bilaterally; and must avoid environments of concentrated
exposure to dangerous machinery and unprotected heights. He
can do semiskilled tasks/work but is precluded from skilled
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work.
6. The claimant was born [in 1974] and was 41 years old,
which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the
date the application was filed.
7. The claimant has a limited education and is able to
communicate in English.
8. Transferability of job skills is not material to the
determination of disability because using the
Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding
that the claimant is “not disabled, ” whether or
not the claimant has transferable job skills.
9. Considering the claimant's age, education, work
experience, and residual functional capacity, there are jobs
that exist in significant numbers in the national economy
that the claimant can perform.
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defined
in the Social Security Act, since April 2, 2015, the date the
application was filed.
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review,
leaving the ALJ's decision the final decision of the
Commissioner. See 20 C.F.R. § 416.1481.
Plaintiff filed this civil action pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g) for review of the Agency's decision.
See 42 U.S.C. § 1383(c)(3).
Social Security Act authorizes judicial review of the
agency's final decision. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The
question before the Court is not whether the claimant is, in
fact, disabled but whether the ALJ's decision
“applies the correct legal standards and is supported
by substantial evidence.” Summers v.
Berryhill, 864 F.3d 523, 526 (7th Cir. 2017); 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g), the Court must accept the Commissioner's
factual findings as conclusive if they are supported by
substantial evidence, which is “such relevant evidence
as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Moore v. Colvin, 743 F.3d 1118,
1120-21 (7th Cir. 2014) (quoting Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)); see 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). The Court reviews the entire
administrative record but does not re-weigh the evidence,
resolve conflicts in evidence, or substitute its judgment for
that of the ALJ. See McKinzey v. Astrue, 641 F.3d
884, 890 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Lopez ex rel. Lopez v.
Barnhart, 336 F.3d 535, 539 (7th Cir. 2003)). However,
“if the Commissioner commits an error of law, ”
the Court may reverse the decision “without regard to
the volume of evidence in support of the factual
findings.” White v. Apfel, 167 F.3d
369, 373 (7th Cir. 1999) (citing Binion v. Chater,
108 F.3d 780, 782 (7th Cir. 1997)).
minimum, an ALJ must articulate his analysis of the evidence
in order to allow the reviewing court to trace the path of
his reasoning and to be assured that the ALJ considered the
important evidence. See Scott v. Barnhart, 297 F.3d
589, 595 (7th Cir. 2002). “The ALJ also has a basic
obligation to develop a full and fair record and must build
an accurate and logical bridge between the evidence and the
result to afford the claimant meaningful judicial review of
the administrative findings.” Beardsley v.
Colvin, 758 F.3d 834, 837 (7th Cir. 2014) (internal