United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MATTHEW F. KENNELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Leach applied for supplemental social security income (SSI)
benefits, claiming that he suffers from physical and mental
impairments that prevent him from working. He now seeks
judicial review of the denial of his application by the
Social Security Administration (SSA). The parties have filed
cross-motions for summary judgment. For the reasons stated
below, the Court grants Leach's motion, denies the
government's motion, and remands the case for further
applied for SSI on March 6, 2013, claiming a disability onset
date of June 28, 2011. He stated that he suffered from
degenerative disc disease, obesity, affective disorder,
anxiety disorder, sleep apnea, hypothyroidism, and hand
denied Leach's application on November 8, 2013 and again
upon reconsideration on June 6, 2014. Leach then requested a
hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Leach and
his attorney attended the hearing, which was held on January
11, 2016. The ALJ heard testimony from Leach and Richard
Fisher, a vocational expert. On April 7, 2016, the ALJ issued
a finding that Leach is not disabled and is therefore
ineligible for SSI.
the Appeals Council denied Leach's request for review on
March 6, 2017, the ALJ's decision became the final
decision of the Commissioner of Social Security. See
Minnick v. Colvin, 775 F.3d 929, 935 (7th Cir. 2015).
Leach filed this lawsuit seeking judicial review of the
Commissioner's final decision, in accordance with 42
U.S.C. § 405(g). Both Leach and the Commissioner of
Social Security have moved for summary judgment.
reaching his decision, the ALJ used the standard five-step
analysis set forth in the Social Security regulations to
determine whether an individual is disabled. See 20
C.F.R. § 404.1520(a). At step one, the ALJ determined
that Leach meets the insured status requirements of the
Social Security Act. At step two, the ALJ found that Leach
had not engaged in substantial gainful activity (SGA) since
his alleged disability onset date.
three, the ALJ determined that Leach does not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals the severity of the one of the impairments
listed in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart B, Appendix 1. The listed
impairments that the ALJ considered were major dysfunction of
joints (1.02), disorders of the spine (1.04), affective
disorders (12.04), and anxiety-related disorders (12.06). The
ALJ also considered the unlisted condition of obesity and
addressed whether an impairment in combination with obesity
medically equaled a listing; he found none did.
first evaluated whether the severity of Leach's mental
impairments related to 12.04 and 12.06 satisfied the
"Paragraph B" criteria. To satisfy the Paragraph B
criteria, the mental impairments must result in at least two
of the following: marked restriction in activities of daily
living; marked difficulty in maintaining social functioning;
marked difficulty in maintaining concentration, persistence,
or pace; or repeated episodes of decompensation, each of
found that Leach has a mild restriction in activities of
daily living, noting that he does not report any difficulty
in maintaining his personal hygiene and that he appeared
well-groomed at his psychological and psychiatric
examinations. R. 24. The ALJ also stated that although Leach
struggles to perform household chores, he attributes his
difficulties to physical impairments rather than mental
impairments. R. 24.
went on to find that Leach has mild difficulties in social
functioning. He pointed to Leach's testimony that he
spends time with others as well as mental health records that
indicate he was cooperative and pleasant at examinations. R.
found that Leach has moderate difficulties in maintaining
concentration, persistence, or pace given his testimony that
he has no difficulty in concentrating while he plays games,
including video games. R. 24. The ALJ also noted that Leach
reports difficulty in remembering to take his medication and
that his attention and concentration were only fair at a
mental status examination in October 2014. R. 24.
found no evidence in Leach's medical history of an
extended episode of decompensation-a temporary increase in
symptoms accompanied by a loss of ...