United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
GREGORY A. IVERSEN, Claimant,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner, Social Security Administration, Respondent.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Jeffrey T. Gilbert United States Magistrate Judge
Gregory Iversen ("Claimant") seeks review of the
final decision of Respondent Nancy A. Berryhill, Acting
Commissioner of Social Security (the
"Commissioner"), denying Claimant's application
for disability insurance benefits under Title II of the
Social Security Act. The parties consented to the
jurisdiction of a United States Magistrate Judge for all
proceedings, including entry of final judgment, pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Local Rule 73.1. [ECF No. 13.]
They filed cross-motions for summary judgment pursuant to
Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [ECF Nos.
21, 23.] For the reasons discussed below, Claimant's
motion for summary judgment is denied, and the
Commissioner's is granted. The decision of the
Commissioner is affirmed.
filed an application for disability insurance benefits on
June 10, 2013, alleging a disability onset date of January 1,
2008. (R. 219.) After an initial denial and a denial on
reconsideration, Claimant filed a request for an
administrative hearing. Id. at 93, 106, 119.
Claimant, who was represented by counsel, appeared and
testified before an Administrative Law Judge (the
"ALJ") during a hearing held on January 14, 2015.
Id. at 36-74. A vocational expert (the
"VE") also testified at the hearing. Id.
March 26, 2013, the ALJ issued a written decision denying
Claimant's application for benefits based on a finding
that he was not disabled under the Social Security Act.
Id. at 19-29. The opinion followed the five-step
sequential evaluation process required by Social Security
Regulations. 20 § C.F.R. 404.1520. At step one, the ALJ
found Claimant had not engaged in substantial gainful
activity since his alleged onset date of January 1, 2008.
Id. at 21. At step two, the ALJ found Claimant had
the severe impairments of a diabetes mellitus, type I, with
diabetic retinopathy and neuropathy. Id. At step
three, the ALJ found Claimant did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the
severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R., Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R. 404.1520(d), 404.1525
and 404.1526). Mat 22.
step four, the ALJ found Claimant had the residual functional
capacity ("RFC") to work at the sedentary level
with the following limitations: Claimant must avoid all
exposure to work hazards such as unprotected heights and
dangerous moving machinery; can never climb ladders, rope, or
scaffolding; can no more than occasionally balance, stoop,
kneel, crouch, crawl, bend, twist or climb ramps/stairs; and
must avoid work requiring reading small print and
handling/viewing small objects (1.5 inches or smaller).
Id. at 23.
on this RFC, the ALJ determined at step four that Claimant
could not perform any past relevant work. Id. at 27.
Then, at step five, the ALJ found there were jobs that exist
in significant numbers in the national economy that Claimant
could perform. Id. Specifically, the ALJ found
Claimant could work as a preparer, plated products, and a
waxer. Id. at 28. Because of this determination, the
ALJ found Claimant was not disabled under the Social Security
Act. Id. at 29.
29, 2015, Claimant sought review of the ALJ's decision.
Id. at 15. On May 16, 2016, the Social Security
Appeals Council denied the request for review. Id.
at 1. The ALJ's decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner. Id.; see also Nelms v. Astrue, 553
F.3d 1093, 1097 (7th Cir. 2009). Claimant now seeks review in
this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). See
Haynes v. Baumhart, 416 F.3d 621, 626 (7th Cir. 2005).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
decision by an ALJ becomes the Commissioner's final
decision if the Appeals Council denies a request for review.
Sims v. Apfel, 530 U.S. 103, 106-107 (2000). Under
such circumstances, the district court reviews the decision
of the ALJ. Id. Judicial review is limited to
determining whether the decision is supported by substantial
evidence in the record and whether the ALJ applied the
correct legal standards in reaching her decision.
Nelms, 553 F.3d at 1097.
evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion."
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). A
"mere scintilla" of evidence is not enough.
Scott v. Barnhart, 297 F.3d 589, 593 (7th Cir.
2002). Even when there is adequate evidence in the record to
support the decision, however, the findings will not be
upheld if the ALJ does not "build an accurate and
logical bridge from the evidence to the conclusion."
Berger v. Astrue, 516 F.3d 539, 544 (7th Cir. 2008).
If the Commissioner's decision lacks evidentiary support
or adequate discussion of the issues, it cannot stand.
Villano v. Astrue, 556 F.3d 558, 562 (7th Cir.
"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). Though the
standard of review is deferential, a reviewing court must
"conduct a critical review of the evidence" before
affirming the Commissioner's decision. Eichstadt v.
Astrue, 534 F.3d 663, 665 (7th Cir. 2008). It may not,
however, "displace the ALJ's judgment by
reconsidering facts or evidence." Elder v.
Astrue, 529 F.3d 408, 413 (7th Cir. 2008). Thus,
judicial review is limited to determining whether the ALJ
applied the correct legal standards and whether there is
substantial evidence to support the findings. Nelms,
553 F.3d at 1097. The reviewing court may enter a judgment
"affirming, modifying, or reversing the decision of the
[Commissioner], with or without remanding the cause for a
rehearing." 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
presents one issue for review. He argues the ALJ's
conclusion at step five was not supported by substantial
evidence. Specifically, Claimant contends the ALJ failed to
resolve apparent conflicts between the VE's testimony ...