United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
RICARDO R. THOMPSON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant. 
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), plaintiff Ricardo R.
Thompson seeks judicial review of the final agency decision
denying his claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and
Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) benefits pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 423.
alleged a disability beginning on December 8, 2012, and
applied for benefits later that month. After holding an
evidentiary hearing, ALJ Christopher Hunt denied the
application in a written decision dated March 18, 2015. (Tr.
11-23). The Appeals Council denied review, and the decision
of the ALJ became the final agency decision. (Tr. 2).
Plaintiff has exhausted his administrative remedies and has
filed a timely complaint.
Raised by Plaintiff
makes the following arguments:
(1) The ALJ erred in failing to find that plaintiff's
impaired vision was a severe impairment at step two and in
failing to include limitations arising from impaired vision
in his residual functional capacity assessment.
(2) The ALJ failed to properly weigh the opinion of state
agency consultant Richard Bilinsky, M.D., and a statement
from plaintiff's former employer.
qualify for Disability Insurance Benefits or Supplemental
Security Income, a claimant must be disabled within the
meaning of the relevant statutes and
regulations. “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). 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 is done for pay
or profit. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1572.
Security regulations set forth a five-step inquiry to
determine whether a claimant is disabled. The 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.
Craft v. Astrue, 539 F.3d 668, 674 (7th Cir. 2008);
accord Weatherbee v. Astrue, 649 F.3d 565, 568-69
(7th Cir. 2011).
the Court must ask the five following questions: (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.
answer to 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 Commissioner 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 national economy.”).
Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to ensure that
the decision is supported by substantial evidence and that
there are no mistakes of law. This 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). Substantial evidence means “such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Richardson v. Perales,
402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971). In reviewing for “substantial
evidence, ” the entire administrative record is taken
into consideration, but this Court does not reweigh evidence,
resolve conflicts, decide ...