United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
DONALD E. FREDERICKS, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security,  Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MARIA VALDEZ, United States Magistrate Judge
action was brought under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review
the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (the “Commissioner”) denying
Plaintiff Donald Fredericks's (“Plaintiff”)
claim for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”).
The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the United
States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).
For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion for
summary judgment [Doc. No. 14] is granted in part. The case
is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this
16, 2012, Plaintiff filed a claim for DIB, alleging
disability since June 8, 2010. (R. 20, 213-18.) The claim was
denied initially and upon reconsideration, after which
Plaintiff timely requested a hearing before an Administrative
Law Judge (“ALJ”). (R. 20.) On May 7, 2014,
Plaintiff, represented by counsel, appeared and testified by
video before ALJ Karen Sayon. (R. 35-76.) Vocational expert
(“VE”) Jacqueline Bethell also testified.
10, 2014, the ALJ denied Plaintiff's claim for DIB,
finding him not disabled under the Social Security Act. (R.
20-29.) The Social Security Administration Appeals Council
denied Plaintiff's request for review, leaving the
ALJ's decision as the final decision of the Commissioner
and, therefore, reviewable by the District Court under 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). See Haynes v. Barnhart, 416
F.3d 621, 626 (7th Cir. 2005).
found at step one that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity from his alleged onset date of
June 8, 2010. (R. 22.) At step two, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff had the severe impairments of lumbar degenerative
disc disease, cervical degenerative disc disease, and
obesity. (Id.) The ALJ indicated at step three that
Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one
of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P,
Appendix 1. (R. 23.) The ALJ then assessed Plaintiff's
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) and
determined that Plaintiff retained the capacity to perform
light work, except that he could not climb ladders, ropes, or
scaffolds, and was limited to occasional balancing, stooping,
kneeling, crouching, crawling, and climbing of ramps and
ladders. (R. 24.) At step four, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff was unable to perform any past relevant work. (R.
28.) Finally, at step five, the ALJ found that there were
jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national
economy that Plaintiff could perform, such as counter clerk,
housekeeper, or laundry aide. (R. 29.). Because of this
determination, the ALJ found that Plaintiff was not disabled
under the Act. (Id.)
ALJ LEGAL STANDARD
the Social Security Act, a person is disabled if he has an
“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 twelve months.” 42 U.S.C.
§ 423(d)(1)(a). In order to determine whether a claimant
suffers from a disability, the ALJ considers the following
five questions in order: (1) Is the claimant presently
unemployed? (2) Does the claimant have a severe impairment?
(3) Does the impairment meet or medically equal one of a list
of specific impairments enumerated in the regulations? (4) Is
the claimant unable to perform his former occupation? and (5)
Is the claimant unable to perform any other work? 20 C.F.R.
affirmative answer at either step three or step five leads to
a finding that the claimant is disabled. Young v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 957 F.2d 386,
389 (7th Cir. 1992). A negative answer at any step, other
than at step three, precludes a finding of disability.
Id. The claimant bears the burden of proof at steps
one through four. Id. Once the claimant shows an
inability to perform past work, the burden then shifts to the
Commissioner to show the claimant's ability to engage in
other work existing in significant numbers in the national
405(g) provides in relevant part that “[t]he 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). Judicial review
of the ALJ's decision is limited to determining whether
the ALJ's findings are supported by substantial evidence
or based upon legal error. Clifford v. Apfel, 227
F.3d 863, 869 (7th Cir. 2000); Stevenson v. Chater,
105 F.3d 1151, 1153 (7th Cir. 1997). Substantial evidence is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971);
Skinner v. Astrue, 478 F.3d 836, 841 (7th Cir.
2007). This Court may not substitute its judgment for that of
the Commissioner by reevaluating facts, reweighing evidence,
resolving conflicts in evidence, or deciding questions of
credibility. Skinner, 478 F.3d at 841; see also