United States District Court, N.D. Indiana
OPINION AND ORDER
William C. Lee, Judge United States District Court
matter is before the court for judicial review of a final
decision of the defendant Commissioner of Social Security
Administration denying Plaintiff's application for
Supplemental Security Income (SSI), as provided for in the
Social Security Act. Section 205(g) of the Act provides,
inter alia, "[a]s part of his answer, the [Commissioner]
shall file a certified copy of the transcript of the record
including the evidence upon which the findings and decision
complained of are based. The court shall have the power to
enter, upon the pleadings and transcript of the record, a
judgment affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of
the [Commissioner], with or without remanding the case for a
rehearing." It also provides, "[t]he findings of
the [Commissioner] as to any fact, if supported by
substantial evidence, shall be conclusive. . . ." 42
provides that an applicant for SSI must establish an
"inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity
by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental
impairment which can be expected to last for a continuous
period of no less than 12 months. . . ." 42 U.S.C.
§416(i)(1); 42 U.S.C. §423(d)(1)(A). A physical or
mental impairment is "an impairment that results from
anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities
which are demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and
laboratory diagnostic techniques." 42 U.S.C.
§423(d)(3). It is not enough for a plaintiff to
establish that an impairment exists. It must be shown that
the impairment is severe enough to preclude the plaintiff
from engaging in substantial gainful activity. Gotshaw v.
Ribicoff, 307 F.2d 840 (7th Cir. 1962), cert. denied,
372 U.S. 945 (1963); Garcia v. Califano, 463 F.Supp.
1098 (N.D.Ill. 1979). It is well established that the burden
of proving entitlement to disability insurance benefits is on
the plaintiff. See Jeralds v. Richardson, 445 F.2d
36 (7th Cir. 1971); Kutchman v. Cohen, 425 F.2d 20
(7th Cir. 1970).
the foregoing framework, "[t]he question before [this
court] is whether the record as a whole contains substantial
evidence to support the [Commissioner's] findings."
Garfield v. Schweiker, 732 F.2d 605, 607 (7th Cir.
1984) citing Whitney v. Schweiker, 695 F.2d 784, 786
(7th Cir. 1982); 42 U.S.C. §405(g). "Substantial
evidence is defined as 'more than a mere scintilla. It
means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.'"
Rhoderick v. Heckler, 737 F.2d 714, 715 (7th Cir.
1984) quoting Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389,
401, 91 S.Ct. 1410, 1427 (1971); see Allen v.
Weinberger, 552 F.2d 781, 784 (7th Cir. 1977). "If
the record contains such support [it] must [be] affirmed, 42
U.S.C. §405(g), unless there has been an error of
law." Garfield, supra at 607; see
also Schnoll v. Harris, 636 F.2d 1146, 1150 (7th Cir.
present matter, after consideration of the entire record, the
Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) made the
1. The claimant has not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since April 11, 2013, the application date (20 CFR
2. The claimant has the following severe impairments:
obstructive sleep apnea; low back pain; neck pain;
hypertension; polysubstance abuse; alcohol dependence; major
depressive disorder; generalized anxiety disorder; borderline
personality disorder; history of hip pain; and sacroiliac
pain (20 CFR 416.920(c)).
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,
Appendix 1 (20 CFR 4316.920(d), 416.925 and 416.926).
4. After careful consideration of the entire record, I find
that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to
perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a) except
she can lift and carry five pounds frequently and ten pounds
occasionally; sit for one hour at a time and up to four to
five hours total per eight-hour workday with a sit-stand
option for five minutes on the hour; stand for 30 minutes to
one hour at a time and for up to three hours total per
eight-hour workday; walk for 15 to 30 minutes at one time and
for one to two hours totals per eight-hour workday;
frequently reach overhead, bilaterally; occasionally operate
foot controls; occasionally climb ramps and stairs with a
handrail; never climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds;
occasionally balance, bend, stoop, and kneel; never crouch or
crawl; no exposure to unprotected heights; occasional
exposure to moving mechanical parts; no commercial driving;
no exposure to extreme heat or cold; she may use a straight
cane for ambulation; and she can tolerate occasional contact
with coworkers. supervisors, and the general public.
5. The claimant is unable to perform any past relevant work
(20 CFR 416.965).
6. The claimant was born on March 1, 1966 and was 47 years
old, which is defined as a younger individual aged 45-49, on
the date the application was filed (20 CFR 416.963).
7. The claimant has a limited education and is able to
communicate in English (20 CFR 416.964).
8. Transferability of job skills is not an issue in this case
because the claimant's past relevant work is unskilled
(20 CFR 416.968).
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 CFR 416.969 and 416.969(a)).
10. The claimant has not been under a disability, as defnined
in the Social Security Act, since April 11, 2013, the date
the application was filed (20 CFR 416.920(g)).
(Tr. 73- 83).
upon these findings, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff was
not entitled to SSI. The ALJ's decision became the final
agency decision when the Appeals Council denied review. This
filed her opening brief on September 27, 2019. On November 7,
2019, the defendant filed a memorandum in support of the
Commissioner's decision to which Plaintiff replied on
November 23, 2019. Upon full review of the record in this
cause, this court is of the view that the ALJ's decision
should be remanded.
step test has been established to determine whether a
claimant is disabled. See Singleton v. Bowen, 841
F.2d 710, 711 (7th Cir. 1988); Bowen v. Yuckert, 107
S.Ct. 2287, 2290-91 (1987). The United States Court of