United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), plaintiff Paul
Douglas Brasher seeks judicial review of the final agency
decision denying him Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 423.
applied for benefits in June 2012, alleging disability
beginning on February 4, 2011. After holding an evidentiary
hearing, ALJ Victoria A. Ferrer denied the application for
benefits in a decision dated December 31, 2014. (Tr. 16-26).
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 points:
1. The ALJ erred in finding that plaintiff had acquired
2. The ALJ erred in finding that plaintiff's mental
impairments were nonsevere and in failing to include any
mental limitations in her residual functional capacity
3. The ALJ erred in assessing the weight to be given to the
opinion of treating physician Dr. James Alexander.
4. The ALJ erred in assessing plaintiff's credibility.
qualify for DIB or SSI, 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).
“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
C.F.R. § 404.1572.
Security regulations set forth a sequential five-step inquiry
to determine whether a claimant is disabled. 20 C.F.R. §
404.1520. Under this procedure, 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. Simila v. Astrue, 573 F.3d 503,
512-513 (7th Cir. 2009); Schroeter v. Sullivan, 977
F.2d 391, 393 (7th Cir. 1992).
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has explained this process
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
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 recognize that
the scope of 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. Brasher was, in fact, disabled at the relevant
time, but whether the ALJ's findings were supported by
substantial evidence and ...