United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), plaintiff Joseph
Sanders seeks judicial review of the final agency decision
denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(DIB) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423.
applied for benefits in July 2013 alleging disability
beginning on April 6, 2012. After holding an evidentiary
hearing, ALJ Stuart T. Janney denied the application in a
written decision dated August 20, 2015. (Tr. 20-32.) 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:
ALJ erred in giving too little weight to the opinion of Dr.
Woiteshek, an orthopedic specialist who examined him.
ALJ did not consider his pain medication and side effects.
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.
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).
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 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. Sanders was, in fact, disabled at
the relevant time 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); Moore v. Colvin,
743 F.3d 1118, 1121 (7th Cir. 2014). However, while judicial
review is deferential, it is not abject; this Court does not