United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT, DISTRICT JUDGE
accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), plaintiff Maria
Passig is before the Court, represented by counsel, seeking
review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social
Security denying her Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB).
applied for DIB on May 31, 2012. She alleged disability
beginning on January 12, 2012 (Tr. 59). After holding a
hearing, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Bradley L. Davis
denied the application in a decision dated May 13, 2014 (Tr.
59-71). The Appeals Council denied review 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.
Raised by Plaintiff
raises the following issue:
ALJ's residual functional capacity (RFC) finding did not
account for plaintiff's deficiencies in concentration,
persistence, or pace.
qualify for DIB, a claimant must be disabled within the
meaning of the applicable statutes. 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.
Security regulations set forth a sequential five-step inquiry
to determine whether a claimant is disabled. The Seventh
Circuit Court of Appeals has explained this process as
The first step considers whether the applicant is engaging in
substantial gainful activity. The second step evaluates
whether an alleged physical or mental impairment is severe,
medically determinable, and meets a durational requirement.
The third step compares the impairment to a list of
impairments that are considered conclusively disabling. If
the impairment meets or equals one of the listed impairments,
then the applicant is considered disabled; if the impairment
does not meet or equal a listed impairment, then the
evaluation continues. The fourth step assesses an
applicant's residual functional capacity (RFC) and
ability to engage in past relevant work. If an applicant can
engage in past relevant work, he is not disabled. The fifth
step assesses the applicant's RFC, as well as his age,
education, and work experience to determine whether the
applicant can engage in other work. If the applicant can
engage in other work, he is not disabled.
Craft v. Astrue, 539 F.3d 668, 673 (7th Cir. 2008);
accord Weatherbee v. Astrue, 649 F.3d 565, 568-69
(7th Cir. 2011).
another way, 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. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520; Simila v.
Astrue, 573 F.3d 503, 512-13 (7th Cir. 2009);
Schroeter v. Sullivan, 977 F.2d 391, 393 (7th Cir.
answer at steps one and two is “yes, ” the
claimant will automatically be found disabled if he or she
suffers from a listed impairment, determined at step three.
If the claimant does not have a listed impairment at step
three, and cannot perform his or her past work (step four),
the burden shifts to the Secretary at step five to show that
the claimant can perform some other job. Rhoderick v.
Heckler, 737 F.2d 714, 715 (7th Cir. 1984); see also
Zurawski v. Halter, 245 F.3d 881, 886 (7th Cir.
2001)(Under the five-step evaluation, an “affirmative
answer leads either to the next step, or, on Steps 3 and 5,
to a finding that the claimant is disabled…. If a
claimant reaches step 5, the burden shifts to the ALJ to
establish that the claimant is capable of performing work in
the national economy.”).
Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to ensure that
the decision is supported by substantial evidence and that no
mistakes of law were made. It is important to understand that
the scope of judicial 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 plaintiff was, 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).
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
Decision of the ALJ
Davis followed the five-step analytical framework described
above. He determined that plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date.
The ALJ found that plaintiff had severe impairments of pelvic
floor disorder, fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety, migraine
headaches, obesity, ventral hernia, diverticulitis and
chronic constipation. The ALJ further determined that these
impairments did not meet or equal a listed impairment (Tr.
found that plaintiff had the RFC to perform work at the light
level with physical and mental limitations (Tr. 63). Based on
the testimony of a vocational expert (VE), the ALJ found that
plaintiff was unable to perform her past relevant work.
However, she was not disabled because she was able to do
other work that existed in significant numbers in the
regional and national economies (Tr. 69-71).
Court has reviewed and considered the entire evidentiary
record in formulating this Memorandum and Order. The
following summary of the record is directed to the points
raised by the plaintiff.
was born on October 22, 1964, and was forty-nine years old
when ALJ Davis issued his opinion. She is insured for DIB
through December 31, 2016 (Tr. 217). She was five feet tall and
weighed one hundred and sixty pounds (Tr. 220). She completed
two years of college in 1998. She previously worked as a