United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. ROWLAND United States Magistrate Judge
Homer Williams filed this action seeking reversal of the
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying
his application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under
Title XVI of the Social Security Act (Act). 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g), 1381 et seq. The parties have consented
to the jurisdiction of the United States Magistrate Judge,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and Plaintiff has filed
a request to reverse the ALJ's decision and remand for
additional proceedings. For the reasons stated below, the
case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this
THE SEQUENTIAL EVALUATION PROCESS
recover SSI, a claimant must establish that he or she is
disabled within the meaning of the Act. York v.
Massanari, 155 F.Supp.2d 973, 977 (N.D. Ill.
2001). A person is disabled if he or she is
unable to perform “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.” 20 C.F.R. §
416.905(a). In determining whether a claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner conducts a standard five-step
1. Is the claimant presently unemployed?
2. Does the claimant have a severe medically determinable
physical or mental impairment that interferes with basic
work-related activities and is expected to last at least 12
3. Does the impairment meet or equal one of a list of
specific impairments enumerated in the regulations?
4. Is the claimant unable to perform his or her former
5. Is the claimant unable to perform any other work?
20 C.F.R. §§ 416.909, 416.920; see Clifford v.
Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir. 2000). “An
affirmative answer leads either to the next step, or, on
Steps 3 and 5, to a finding that the claimant is disabled. A
negative answer at any point, other than Step 3, ends the
inquiry and leads to a determination that a claimant is not
disabled.” Zalewski v. Heckler, 760 F.2d 160,
162 n.2 (7th Cir. 1985). “The burden of proof is on the
claimant through step four; only at step five does the burden
shift to the Commissioner.” Clifford, 227 F.3d
protectively applied for SSI on August 1, 2012,
alleging that he became disabled on February 7, 1996, due to
a gunshot wound in the right leg, depression, high blood
pressure, and seizures. (R. at 17, 156, 175, 179). The
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration,
after which Plaintiff filed a timely request for a hearing.
(Id. at 17, 60-78, 99). On February 4, 2014,
Plaintiff, who was represented by counsel, testified at a
hearing before Roxanne J. Kelsey, an Administrative Law Judge
(ALJ). (Id. at 17, 34-59). The ALJ also heard
testimony from George B. Paprocki, a vocational expert (VE).
(Id. at 17, 51-59, 146).
denied Plaintiff's request for benefits on April 24,
2014. (R. at 17-28). Applying the five-step sequential
evaluation process, the ALJ found at step one that Plaintiff
had not engaged in substantial gainful activity since August
1, 2012, the application date. (Id. at 19). At step
two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff's abscess on right
thigh, seizures, history of gunshot wound to the right leg,
polysubstance dependence in remission, mood disorder, and
antisocial personality disorder are severe impairments, but
that hypertension is not. (Id.). At step three, the
ALJ determined that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that meets or medically equals the
severity of any of the listings enumerated in the
regulations. (Id. at 19-22).
then assessed Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(RFC) and determined that he can perform medium
work, except he
can never climb ladders, rope or scaffolds; and no more than
occasional concentrated exposure to hazards such as
dangerous, moving machinery or unprotected heights.
[Plaintiff] lacks the ability to understand, remember and
carry out detailed instructions, but retains the sustained
concentration necessary for simple work. [Plaintiff] may have
occasional brief and superficial contact with the general
(Id. at 22). The ALJ determined at step four that
Plaintiff has no past relevant work. (Id. at 26).
Based on Plaintiff's RFC, age, education, and the
VE's testimony, the ALJ determined at step five that
there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in the
national economy that Plaintiff can perform, including
warehouse worker and industrial cleaner. (Id. at
27-28). Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff was not
suffering from a disability, as defined by the Act.
(Id. at 28).
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on
July 17, 2015. (R. at 1-5). Plaintiff now seeks judicial
review of the ALJ's decision, which stands as the final
decision of the ...