United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
ROBERT G. ANDERSON, JR., Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL,  Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. ROWLAND, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Robert G. Anderson, Jr. filed this action seeking reversal of
the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
denying his application for Disability Insurance Benefits
(DIB) under Title II of the Social Security Act (Act). 42
U.S.C. §§ 405(g), 423 et seq. The parties have
consented to the jurisdiction of the United States Magistrate
Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c), and filed cross
motions for summary judgment. For the reasons stated below,
the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with
THE SEQUENTIAL EVALUATION PROCESS
recover Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB), 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. §
404.1505(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?
20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1509, 404.1520; 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
protectively applied for DIB on September 4, 2012, alleging
he became disabled on July 5, 2012. (R. at 205). This claim
was denied initially and upon reconsideration, after which
Plaintiff filed a timely request for a hearing. (Id.
at 102-105, 108-110, 112). On November 3, 3014, Plaintiff,
represented by counsel, testified at a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (Id. at 37-74). The
ALJ also heard testimony from Robert Taub, M.D., a medical
expert (ME), and James Breen, a vocational expert (VE).
(Id. at 44-47, 67-72).
issued a partially favorable decision on February 5, 2015
finding that Plaintiff became disabled on September 3, 2014.
(R. at 17-36, 21). Applying the five-step sequential
evaluation process, the ALJ found, at step one, that
Plaintiff met the insured status requirement through December
31, 2018 and had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since his alleged onset date of June 28, 2012. (Id. at
23). At step two, the ALJ found that since the alleged onset
date of June 28, 2012, Plaintiff had the following severe
impairments: hypertensive retinopathy; branch vein occlusion;
status post-cataract excision and lens replacement, left eye;
and chronic pulmonary obstructive disease. (Id.). At
step three, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff does not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that meet or
medically equal the severity of any listings enumerated in
the regulations. (Id. at 24).
then assessed Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(RFC) and determined that prior to September 3,
2014 Plaintiff had the RFC to perform a full ...