United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 05(g), plaintiff Jason Scott
Silbe, represented by counsel, seeks review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying his
application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 423.
applied for disability benefits in November 2012 alleging
disability beginning on October 18, 2010. After holding an
evidentiary hearing, ALJ Kevin R. Martin denied the
application in a decision dated January 20, 2015. (Tr.
20-30.) The Appeals Council denied plaintiff's request
for review, and the ALJ's decision became the final
agency decision subject to judicial review. (Tr. 1.)
has exhausted his administrative remedies and has filed a
timely complaint in this court.
Raised by Plaintiff
raises the following issues:
ALJ failed to give “good reasons” for discounting
the opinion of Dr. Davidson, plaintiff's treating
credibility determination was erroneous.
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, 674 (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
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 Mr. Silbe 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
Martin followed the five-step analytical framework described
above. He determined that Mr. Silbe had not been engaged in
substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date and
that he was insured for DIB only through December 31, 2014.
found that plaintiff had severe impairments of degenerative
disc disease; diabetes mellitus; psoriasis; inflammatory
arthritis; mild bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome, status post
release; mild osteoarthritis in both hands; low testosterone;
sleep apnea; obesity; pancreatitis; anxiety; and depression.
He found that these impairments do not meet or equal a listed
Martin concluded that plaintiff had the RFC to perform work
at the light exertional level, limited to occasional climbing
of ramps and stairs; no climbing of ropes, ladders and
scaffolding; occasional balancing, stooping, kneeling,
crouching, and crawling; frequent bilateral handling and
fingering; and no concentrated exposure to respiratory
irritants or to hazards such as unprotected heights. He also
had mental limitations in that he was restricted to
understanding, remembering and carrying out simple
instructions and only occasional interactions with coworkers,
supervisors and the public.
on the testimony of a vocational expert (VE), the ALJ
determined that plaintiff could not do his past work, but he
could perform other jobs which exist in significant numbers
in the national and local economies, and, therefore, he was
Court has reviewed and considered the entire evidentiary
record in formulating this Memorandum and Order. The
following summary of the record ...