The opinion of the court was delivered by: Proud, Magistrate Judge:
In accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), plaintiff Ronald Sharkey is before the Court, represented by counsel, seeking review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying him Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.*fn1
Mr. Sharkey applied for benefits in December, 2006, alleging disability beginning on December 11, 2006. (Tr. 104). The application was denied initially and on reconsideration. After holding a hearing, ALJ Sherwin F. Biesman denied the application for benefits in a decision dated September 25, 2009. (Tr. 16-23). Plaintiff's request for review was denied by the Appeals Council in January, 2011, and the decision of the ALJ became the final agency decision. (Tr. 1).
Administrative remedies have been exhausted and a timely complaint was filed in this Court. Plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment at Doc. 22.
Issues Raised by Plaintiff
Plaintiff argues that the ALJ erred in the following respects:
1. He failed to develop the record regarding Mr. Sharkey's limitations.
2. He improperly evaluated the opinion of Physician's Assistant (P.A.) Church.
3. His assessment of plaintiff's RFC was not supported by substantial evidence.
4. He failed to explain why he rejected plaintiff's complaints of fatigue.
4. His credibility analysis was legally erroneous. Applicable Legal Standards
To qualify for SSI, a claimant must be disabled within the meaning of the applicable statutes.*fn2 "[S]upplemental security income is not a form of unemployment insurance and is unavailable if any do-able work exists in the national economy, even if other persons with better skills are likely to be hired instead." Donahue v. Barnhart, 279 F.3d 441, 443 (7th Cir. 2002).
For these purposes, "disabled" means the "inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months." 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(1)(A) and 1382c(a)(3)(A). A "physical or mental impairment" is an impairment resulting from anatomical, physiological, or psychological abnormalities which are demonstrable by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques. 42 U.S.C. §§ 423(d)(3) and 1382c(a)(3)(C). "Substantial gainful activity" is work activity that involves doing significant physical or mental activities, and that is done for pay or profit. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1572.
Social Security regulations set forth a sequential five-step inquiry to determine whether a claimant is disabled. It must be determined: (1) whether the claimant is presently unemployed; (2) whether the claimant has an impairment or combination of impairments that is serious; (3) whether the impairments meet or equal one of the listed impairments acknowledged to be conclusively disabling; (4) whether the claimant can perform past relevant work; and (5) whether the claimant is capable of performing any work within the economy, given his or her age, education and work experience. Schroeter v. Sullivan, 977 F.2d 391, 393 (7th Cir. 1992); see also, 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b-f).
This Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to ensure that the decision is supported by substantial evidence and that no mistakes of law were made. The scope of review is limited. "The findings of the Commissioner of Social Security as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive. . . ." 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). Thus, this Court must determine not whether Mr. Sharkey is, in fact, disabled, but whether the ALJ's findings were supported by substantial evidence and whether any errors of law were made. See, Books v. Chater, 91 F.3d 972, 977-78 (7th Cir. 1996) (citing Diaz v. Chater, 55 F.3d 300, 306 (7th Cir. 1995)). This Court uses the Supreme Court's definition of substantial evidence, i.e, "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971).
In reviewing for "substantial evidence," the entire administrative record is taken into consideration, but this Court does not reweigh evidence, resolve conflicts, decide questions of credibility, or substitute its own judgment for that of the ALJ. Brewer v. Chater, 103 F.3d 1384, 1390 (7th Cir. 1997). However, while judicial review is deferential, it is not abject; this Court does not act as a rubber stamp for the Commissioner. See, Parker v. Astrue, 597 F.3d 920, 921 (7th Cir. 2010), and cases cited therein.
ALJ Biesman followed the five-step analytical framework described above.
He determined that Mr. Sharkey had not been engaged in substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date, and that he had severe impairments of diabetes, degenerative disc disease of the cervical spine and chronic low back pain. He determined that plaintiff's impairments do not meet or equal a listed impairment.
The ALJ rejected the opinions of P.A. Church and of the state agency consultant who assessed plaintiff's residual functional capacity. He found that Mr. Sharkey had the residual functional capacity to perform a full range of work at the medium exertional level and he therefore was able to perform his past work as a fork lift operator.
The Court has reviewed and considered the entire evidentiary record in formulating this Memorandum and Order. The following summary of the record is ...