United States District Court, C.D. Illinois, Springfield Division
BRADLEY D. YOKEM, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
SCHANZLE-HASKINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Bradley D. Yokem appeals from the denial of his application
for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and
Supplemental Security Income Disability Benefits (SSI) under
Title XVI of the Social Security Act. 42 U.S.C. §§
416(i), 423, 1381a, and 1382c (collectively Disability
Benefits). This appeal is brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g) and 1383(c). The parties consented to
proceed before this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
636(c). Consent to the Exercise of Jurisdiction by a
United States Magistrate and Reference Order entered March
23, 2016 (d/e 9). This matter is before this Court on
Yokem's Brief in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment
(d/e 13) (Yokem's Motion), and Defendant Commissioner of
Social Security's Motion for Summary Affirmance (d/e 16)
(Commissioner's Motion). For the reasons set forth below,
Yokem's Motion is ALLOWED, the Commissioner's Motion
is DENIED, and the decision of the Commissioner is REVERSED
and REMANDED pursuant to sentence 4 of 42 U.S.C. §
raises narrow issues on appeal related to the Administrative
Law Judge's (ALJ) characterization of Yokem's
Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) and the ALJ's
treatment of the hearing testimony of Vocational Expert Gary
Weimhold. The Court will focus on the facts relevant to these
issues. Yokem was born on August 21, 1969. He completed high
school. He previously worked as a carpenter and laborer. He
last worked on September 26, 2008. In his applications, Yokem
alleged he became disabled on September 27, 2008. The last
date that Yokem was insured for Disability Benefits was
December 31, 2013. Yokem suffers from degenerative cervical
disc disease, Buerger's disease, degenerative joint
disease in his right shoulder, and status post lumbar spinal
surgery. Yokem also lost the tip of his dominant right index
finger. Certified Transcript of Proceedings before the
Social Security Administration (d/e 11) (R.), at 85, 87,
September 4, 2014, the ALJ held an evidentiary hearing. Yokem
appeared with his counsel. Vocational Expert Weimhold also
appeared at the hearing by telephone. R. 103. Yokem testified
at the hearing, and then Weimhold testified. The ALJ asked
Weimhold the following question:
Q . . . I'd like to ask you to please assume a
hypothetical individual, 45 years of age, high school
education, no relevant past work for purposes of my question.
I'd like to further assume the hypothetical individual
that I'm referring to would be able to lift and/or carry
20 pounds occasionally, 10 pounds frequently. Further assume
the hypothetical individual would be able to stand and/or
walk for two hours of an eight hour work day, and sit for
about six hours of an eight hour work day. The hypothetical
individual would be able to occasionally climb ramps and
stairs, but no ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; occasionally
stooping, kneeling, crouching; no crawling. The hypothetical
individual would be able to frequently reach, but only with
occasional overhead reaching, frequently handle, occasionally
finger and feel. The hypothetical would need to avoid
temperature extremes of cold, hazards such as dangerous
machinery or unprotected heights.
. . . .
Q Please tell us in your opinion if the hypothetical
individual I described would be able to perform in any
unskilled occupations, in the national economy?
opined that such a person could perform the jobs of parking
lot attendant, with 25, 000 such jobs existing nationally;
information clerk, with 60, 000 such jobs existing
nationally; and unskilled cashier II jobs limited to
environments in which the person is able to sit while
cashiering, with 19, 000 such jobs existing nationally.
Weimhold testified that the number of parking lot attendant
jobs would be limited to jobs available in parts of the
country with warmer climates due to the need to avoid extreme
cold. Weimhold opined that this additional limitation would
reduce the available relevant parking lot attendant jobs by
50 percent. R. 155-56.
testified that his opinion was inconsistent with the
Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) published by the
Department of Labor. He testified that the jobs were all
listed as light exertional jobs in the DOT. R. 155.
asked Weimhold about the inconsistencies:
Q All right. Could you describe the inconsistencies with the
Dictionary of Occupational Titles that you referred to
A Yes; the main inconsistency would be -- the DOT would say
that these jobs would be light and require up to six hours of
either standing or walking. And I'm deviating from that
in these reduced occupational base projections by saying that
these situations the jobs could be performed with six hours
of sitting and intermittent standing or walking of up to two
hours during the course of a day.
Q So if your answer is not based on the Dictionary of
Occupational Titles what's it based on?
A That would -- in other ways is it all consistent with the
DOT; but this is based upon my experience and having surveys,
labor markets that are relative to these kinds of jobs, and
my observation of persons performing this work.
attorney asked Weimhold about the inconsistencies with the
Q . . . And is it -- I just want to make sure I understand
exactly what you're saying. You're saying those jobs
are described by the Dictionary of ...