Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

McAfee v. Berryhill

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

December 15, 2017

MICHAEL D. MCAFEE, Plaintiff,
v.
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, [1]Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          HON. MARIA VALDEZ, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This 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 Michael McAfee's (“Plaintiff”) claims for Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and Social Security Income (“SSI”) under Title II and Title VXI of the Social Security Act (the “Act”). 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 Brief in Support of Reversing the Decision of the Commissioner of Social Security, which this Court will construe as a motion for summary judgment, is granted and the Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment [Doc. No. 21] is denied.

         BACKGROUND

         I. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed an application for DIB and SSI on August 6, 2012, alleging a disability onset date of January 1, 2010, due to a heart condition, high blood pressure and back pain. (R. 192-201, 224.) His initial application was denied on November 14, 2010, and again at the reconsideration stage on April 3, 2012. (R. 71- 87, 88-105.) Plaintiff requested a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) on May 31, 2013. (R. 131-133.) The hearing was held on July 15, 2014. (R. 30-70.) Plaintiff appeared at the hearing represented by counsel and offered testimony. (Id.) A vocational expert also appeared and offered testimony. (Id.) On August 28, 2014, the ALJ issued a partially favorable written decision, finding Plaintiff became disabled on June 15, 2014. (R. 10-29.) The Appeals Council (“AC”) denied review on December 28, 2015, 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); Herron v. Shalala, 19 F.3d 329, 332 (7th Cir. 1994); (R. 1-6.)

         II. The ALJ Decision

         The ALJ found at step one that Plaintiff has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since his alleged onset date of January 1, 2010. (R. 16.) At step two, the ALJ concluded that Plaintiff had severe impairments of obesity, coronary artery disease status post myocardial infarction, and osteoarthritis of the left knee. (Id.) The ALJ concluded at step three that Plaintiff's impairments, alone or in combination, did not meet or medically equal a Listing. (R. 17.) The ALJ then determined that Plaintiff retained the RFC to perform light work, with the following limitations: He should avoid concentrated exposure to pulmonary irritants such as fumes, odors, dusts, gases and poor ventilation. (Id.) The ALJ concluded at step four that Plaintiff could not perform any past relevant work. (R. 22.)

         Then, the ALJ found that on June 15, 2014 Plaintiff's age category changed to an individual of advanced age. (R. 23.) At step five, the ALJ determined that prior to June 15, 2014, based upon Plaintiff's age, education, work experience, and RFC, there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could have performed. (Id.) However, beginning on June 15, 2014, the ALJ found that based on Plaintiff's age, education, work experience and RFC, there were no jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that Plaintiff could perform. (R. 24.) This lead to a finding that Plaintiff was not disabled prior to June 15, 2014, but became disabled on that date and has continued to be disabled since that date under the Act. Plaintiff seeks review only of the portion of the ALJ's decision that was unfavorable, the question of disability from the alleged onset date of January 1, 2010 through June 14, 2014. [Doc. No. 17 at 1.]

         DISCUSSION

         I. ALJ LEGAL STANDARD

         Under the Act, a person is disabled if she 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 is disabled, 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 her former occupation? and (5) Is the claimant unable to perform any other work? 20 C.F.R. § 416.920(a)(4).

         An affirmative answer at either step 3 or step 5 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 3, precludes a finding of disability. Id. The claimant bears the burden of proof at steps 1- 4. 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 economy. Id.

         II. JUDICIAL REVIEW

         Section 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, or resolving conflicts in evidence. Skinner, 478 F.3d at 841; see also ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.