United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. ROWLAND, United States Magistrate Judge
Mark Wayne Lee filed this action seeking reversal of the
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying
his applications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under
Title XVI of the Social Security Act (Act). 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g), 1381 et seq. The parties have consented
to the jurisdiction of the United States Magistrate Judge,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and Plaintiff has filed
a request to reverse the ALJ's decision and remand for
additional proceedings. For the reasons stated below, the
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
THE SEQUENTIAL EVALUATION PROCESS
recover SSI, a claimant must establish that he or she is
disabled within the meaning of the Act. York v.
Massanari, 155 F.Supp.2d 973, 977 (N.D. Ill.
2001). A person is disabled if he or she is
unable to perform “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.” 20 C.F.R. §
416.905(a). In determining whether a claimant suffers from a
disability, the Commissioner conducts a standard five-step
1. Is the claimant presently unemployed?
2. Does the claimant have a severe medically determinable
physical or mental impairment that interferes with basic
work-related activities and is expected to last at least 12
3. Does the impairment meet or equal one of a list of
specific impairments enumerated in the regulations?
4. Is the claimant unable to perform his or her former
5. Is the claimant unable to perform any other work?
C.F.R. §§ 416.909, 416.920; see Clifford v.
Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 868 (7th Cir. 2000). “An
affirmative answer leads either to the next step, or, on
Steps 3 and 5, to a finding that the claimant is disabled. A
negative answer at any point, other than Step 3, ends the
inquiry and leads to a determination that a claimant is not
disabled.” Zalewski v. Heckler, 760 F.2d 160,
162 n.2 (7th Cir. 1985). “The burden of proof is on the
claimant through step four; only at step five does the burden
shift to the Commissioner.” Clifford, 227 F.3d
applied for SSI on May 30, 2013, alleging that he became
disabled on January 1, 2002, due to depression, illiteracy,
hernia, arthritis, hole in eardrum, and hearing loss. (R. at
11, 169). The application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration, after which Plaintiff filed a timely request
for a hearing. (Id. at 11, 60-81, 98-100). On April
21, 2015, Plaintiff, represented by counsel, testified at a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
(Id. at 11, 30-59). The ALJ also heard testimony
from Gary Paul Wilhelm, a vocational expert (VE).
(Id. at 11, 23- 59; see Id. at 133-35).
denied Plaintiff's request for benefits on May 14, 2015.
(R. at 11-25). Applying the five-step sequential evaluation
process, the ALJ found, at step one, that Plaintiff has not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since May 30, 2013,
the application date. (Id. at 13). At step two, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff's borderline intellectual
functioning and depression are severe impairments.
(Id. at 13-16). At step three, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
any of the listings enumerated in the regulations.
(Id. at 16-20).
then assessed Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(RFC) and determined that he can perform a full
range of work at all ...