United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
SUSAN C. ADAMS, Plaintiff,
NANCY J. 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 Susan C.
Adams seeks judicial review of the final agency decision
denying her application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(DIB) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423.
applied for DIB in November 2012, alleging disability
beginning on September 26, 2011. After holding an evidentiary
hearing, ALJ Stuart T. Janney denied the application in a
written decision dated December 12, 2014. (Tr. 11-25). 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 issues:
ALJ erred in relying on vocational expert testimony that
lacked a reliable basis.
ALJ's residual functional capacity assessment was
erroneous where it was expressed in terms of “light
exertion” rather than in a function-by-function
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).
“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.
order to receive DIB, plaintiff must establish that she was
disabled as of her date last insured. Stevenson v.
Chater, 105 F.3d 1151, 1154 (7th Cir. 1997).
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 plaintiff was, in fact, disabled at the relevant
time, but whether the ALJ's findings were supported by
substantial evidence and ...