United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
GEORGE W. MOTSINGER, JR., Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER of SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
PHIL GILBERT, DISTRICT JUDGE
accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), plaintiff George W.
Motsinger, Jr., represented by counsel, seeks judicial review
of the final agency decision denying his application for
Child Disability Benefits and Supplemental Security Income
(SSI) benefits under 42 U.S.C. § 423.
Motsinger applied for benefits in August 2013 alleging
disability beginning on August 28, 1995. After holding an
evidentiary hearing, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Stuart T.
Janney denied the application on April 29, 2016. (Tr. 10-27.)
The Appeals Council denied review, and the decision of the
ALJ became the final agency decision subject to judicial
review. (Tr. 1.) Administrative remedies have been exhausted
and a timely complaint was filed in this Court.
Raised by Plaintiff
raises the following points:
Whether the ALJ's residual functional capacity (RFC)
assessment is supported by substantial evidence where he
failed to account for all of Motsinger's impairments and
attendant limitations and based the assessment on his own lay
impression of the medical evidence.
Whether the ALJ improperly evaluated Motsinger's
subjective symptom allegations where the ALJ's rationale
was illogical, unexplained, and legally insufficient.
applied for Child Disability Benefits on the earnings record
of his deceased mother. As is relevant to plaintiff, a child
of an insured person who has died is eligible for benefits if
he is age eighteen or older and has a disability that began
before he turned twenty-two. 20 C.F.R. § 404.350(a).
qualify for Child Disability Benefits or SSI benefits, a
claimant must be disabled pursuant to the Social Security
Act. The Act defines a “disability” as 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). The physical or mental impairment must
result from a medically demonstrable abnormality. 42 U.S.C.
§ 423(d)(3). Moreover, the impairment must prevent the
plaintiff from engaging in significant physical or mental
work activity done for pay or profit. 20 C.F.R. §
Security regulations require an ALJ to ask five questions
when determining whether a claimant is disabled. The first
three questions are simple: (1) whether the claimant is
presently unemployed; (2) whether the claimant has a severe
physical or mental impairment; and (3) whether that
impairment meets or is equivalent to one of the listed
impairments that the regulations acknowledge to be
conclusively disabling. 20 C.F.R. § 404.1520(a)(4);
Weatherbee v. Astrue, 649 F.3d 565, 569 (7th Cir.
2011). If the answers to these questions are “yes,
” then the ALJ should find that the claimant is
times, an ALJ may find that the claimant is unemployed and
has a serious impairment, but that the impairment is neither
listed in nor equivalent to the impairments in the
regulations-failing at step three. If this happens, then the
ALJ must ask a fourth question: (4) whether the claimant is
able to perform his or her previous work. Id. If the
claimant is not able to, then the burden shifts to the
Commissioner to answer a fifth and final question: (5)
whether the claimant is capable of performing any
work within the economy, in light of the claimant's age,
education, and work experience. If the claimant cannot, then
the ALJ should find the claimant to be disabled.
Id.; see also Simila v. Astrue, 573 F.3d
503, 512-13 (7th Cir. 2009); Zurawski v. Halter, 245
F.3d 881, 886 (7th Cir. 2001).
claimant may appeal the final decision of the Social Security
Administration to this Court, but the scope of review here is
limited: while the Court must ensure that the ALJ did not
make any errors of law, the ALJ's findings of fact are
conclusive as long as they are supported by
“substantial evidence.” 42 U.S.C. § 405(g).
Substantial evidence is evidence that a reasonable person
would find sufficient to support a decision.
Weatherbee, 649 F.3d at 568 (citing Jens v.
Barnhart, 347 F.3d 209, 212 (7th Cir. 2003)). The Court
takes into account the entire administrative record when
reviewing for substantial evidence, but it 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). But even though this judicial review is limited,
the Court should not and does not act as a rubber stamp for
the Commissioner. Parker v. Astrue, 597 F.3d 920,
921 (7th Cir. 2010).
Decision of the ALJ
Janney followed the five-step analytical framework described
above. Plaintiff had never worked. The ALJ found that
plaintiff had severe impairments of amblyopia (“lazy
eye”), myopia, and astigmatism with decreased visual
acuity; level 3 obesity; history of ear traumas and
infections; learning disorder and borderline intellectual
functioning; and obstructive sleep apnea. At this step, the
ALJ determined that plaintiff had moderate difficulties in
ability to maintain concentration, persistence or pace.
found that Mr. Motsinger had the RFC to perform work at the
sedentary exertional level with some physical and mental
limitations. The mental limitations were that plaintiff was
limited to understanding, remembering, and carrying out
short, simple instructions at a consistent pace, but not
upon the testimony of a vocational expert (VE), the ALJ found
that plaintiff was not disabled because he was capable of
performing jobs that exist in significant numbers in the
Court has reviewed and considered the entire evidentiary
record in formulating this Memorandum and Order. The
following summary of the record is directed to the points