United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
RONDA J. MERRILL, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), plaintiff Ronda J.
Merrill, represented by counsel, seeks judicial review of the
final agency decision denying her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (DIB) and Supplemental Security Income
(SSI) benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423.
Merrill applied for benefits in November 2012, alleging
disability beginning on October 1, 2012. After holding an
evidentiary hearing, ALJ Victoria A. Ferrer issued a
partially favorable decision on September 17, 2014. ALJ
Ferrer denied the application for the period from October 1,
2012, to January 7, 2014, but found that plaintiff became
disabled as of January 8, 2014. (Tr. 12-26). The Appeals
Council denied review, and the decision of the ALJ became the
final agency decision subject to judicial review. (Tr. 1).
remedies have been exhausted and a timely complaint was filed
in this Court.
filed a Motion for Summary Judgment at Doc. 18. Her
memorandum in support is located at Doc. 23, Ex. 1.
Raised by Plaintiff
raises the following issues
ALJ erred in evaluating plaintiff's residual functional
capacity (RFC) in that:
(a) she failed to account for all of plaintiff's mental
(b) she erroneously determined that plaintiff's
fibromyalgia was not a medically determinable impairment;
(c) she failed to give appropriate weight to the opinion of
plaintiff's counselor, Kayla Schumacher; and
(d) she erred in her consideration of plaintiff's COPD.
credibility analysis was erroneous.An additional argument was
set forth under Section D on page 22 of plaintiff's
memorandum. She withdrew that argument in her reply brief,
Doc. 34, p. 4.
qualify for DIB or SSI benefits, a claimant must be disabled
within the meaning of the applicable statutes. In this
context, “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).
“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). “Substantial gainful activity”
is work activity that involves doing significant physical or
mental activities, and that is done for pay or profit. 20
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.
Weatherbee v. Astrue, 649 F.3d 565, 568-569 (7th
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. ...