United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
THOMAS E. CAMPBELL, 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 Thomas E.
Campbell, represented by counsel, seeks review of the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying his
application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 423.
applied for disability benefits in November 2012, alleging
disability beginning on November 2, 2011. After holding an
evidentiary hearing, ALJ Christopher Hunt denied the
application in a decision dated November 21, 2014. (Tr.
22-37). 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:
1. The ALJ failed to consider whether he was entitled to a
closed period of disability.
2. The credibility determination was erroneous because the
ALJ did not consider the interrelationship between
plaintiff's pain and his anxiety.
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) 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.
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. §§ 404.1520; Simila v.
Astrue, 573 F.3d 503, 512-513 (7th Cir. 2009);
Schroeter v. Sullivan, 977 F.2d 391, 393 (7th Cir.
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 plaintiff 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
Hunt followed the five-step analytical framework described
above. He determined that Mr. Campbell had not worked at the
level of substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset