United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
JOHANNA R. JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security,  Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. ROWLAND UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Johanna R. Johnson filed this action seeking reversal of the
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying
her application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) under
Title II and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under Title
XVI of the Social Security Act (the Act). 42 U.S.C.
§§ 405(g), 423 et. seq, 1381 et
seq. The parties 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 this Opinion.
applied for DIB and SSI benefits on September 26, 2013,
alleging that she became disabled on July 15, 2010. (R. at
91). These claims were denied initially on December 9, 2013,
and upon reconsideration on May 6, 2014, after which
Plaintiff filed a timely request for a hearing. (Id.
at 15-17, 91-102, 105-122). On September 29, 2015, Plaintiff,
represented by counsel, testified at a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (Id. at 38-90). The
ALJ also heard testimony from Thomas Dunleavy, a vocational
expert (VE). (Id.).
denied Plaintiff's request for benefits on October 29,
2015. (R. at 18- 32). Applying the five-step sequential
evaluation process, the ALJ found, at step one, that
Plaintiff did not engage in substantial gainful activity
since her alleged onset date of July 15, 2010. (Id.
at 23). At step two, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the
following severe impairments: arthritis in the bilateral
shoulders, and status-post two surgeries on the right
shoulder and one surgery on the left shoulder.
(Id.). At step three, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of any
of the listings enumerated in the regulations. (Id.
then assessed Plaintiff's Residual Functional Capacity
(RFC) and determined that from July 15, 2010,
through October 31, 2013, Plaintiff has the RFC to perform
light work as defined by 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b) and
416.967(b), but with the following limitations:
[T]he claimant was limited to lifting and carrying twenty
pounds occasionally and ten pounds frequently. In addition,
she was able to stand and walk for about six hours in an
eight-hour workday, and was able to sit for about six hours
in an eight-hour workday, with normal rest periods. However,
the claimant was unable to work at heights or frequently
climb ladders, and she was limited to only frequent handling
and manipulation, pushing/ pulling, and reaching bilaterally.
(R. at 24). The ALJ found that Plaintiff's condition
worsened starting on November 1, 2013. Since that date, the
ALJ determined that Plaintiff has the RFC to perform light
[T]he claimant would be limited to lifting and carrying ten
pounds occasionally and less than ten pounds frequently. In
addition, she would be able to stand and walk for about six
hours in an eight-hour workday, and would be able to sit for
about six hours in an eight-hour workday, with normal rest
periods. However, the claimant would be unable to work at
heights or frequently climb ladders, and she would be limited
to only frequent handling and manipulation, pushing/ pulling,
and reaching bilaterally.
(Id.). The ALJ determined at step four that from
July 15, 2010, through October 31, 2013, Plaintiff was
capable of performing past relevant work as a fast food
worker and as a dietary aid. (Id.). Additionally,
the ALJ found that Plaintiff was unable to perform any past
relevant work as of November 1, 2013, the date her condition
worsened. (Id. at 31). Based on Plaintiff's RFC,
age, education, work experience, and the VE's testimony
that Plaintiff is capable of performing work as a cashier, an
inspector packager, and an usher, the ALJ determined at step
five that there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in
the national economy that Plaintiff can perform.
(Id. at 31-32). Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff was not under disability, as defined by the Act,
from the alleged onset date July 15, 2010, through the date
of the ALJ's decision. (Id. at 32).
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on
April 6, 2017. (R. at 1-6). Plaintiff now seeks judicial
review of the ALJ's decision, which stands as the final
decision of the Commissioner. Villano v. Astrue, 556
F.3d 558, 561-62 (7th Cir. 2009).
STANDARD OF REVIEW
review of the Commissioner's final decision is authorized
by § 405(g) of the Act. In reviewing this decision, the
Court may not engage in its own analysis of whether the
plaintiff is severely impaired as defined by the Social
Security Regulations. Young v. Barnhart, 362 F.3d
995, 1001 (7th Cir. 2004). Nor may it “reweigh
evidence, resolve conflicts in the record, decide questions
of credibility, or, in general, substitute [its] own judgment
for that of the Commissioner.” Id. The
Court's task is “limited to determining whether the
ALJ's factual findings are supported by substantial
evidence.” Id. (citing § 405(g)).
Evidence is considered substantial “if a reasonable
person would accept it as adequate to support a
conclusion.” Indoranto v. Barnhart, 374 F.3d
470, 473 (7th Cir. 2004). It “must be more than a
scintilla but may be less than a preponderance.”
Skinner v. Astrue, 478 F.3d 836, 841 (7th Cir.
2007). The ALJ's decision must be explained “with
enough detail and clarity to permit meaningful appellate
review.” Briscoe ex rel. Taylor v. Barnhart,
425 F.3d 345, 351 (7th Cir. 2005).
this Court accords great deference to the ALJ's
determination, it “must do more than merely rubber
stamp the ALJ's decision.” Scott v.
Barnhart,297 F.3d 589, 593 (7th Cir. 2002) (citation
omitted). “[T]he ALJ must identify the relevant
evidence and build a ‘logical bridge' between that
evidence and the ultimate determination.” Moon v.
Colvin, 763 F.3d 718, 721 (7th Cir. 2014). Where the
Commissioner's decision “lacks evidentiary support
or is so ...