United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MARIA VALDEZ, United States Magistrate Judge
action was brought under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) to review
the final decision of the Commissioner of the Social Security
Administration (“Commissioner”) denying Plaintiff
Pamela Daurham's (“Plaintiff”) claims for
Disability Income Benefits (“DIB”) and
Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) under Titles
II and XVI 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 motion for
summary judgment [Doc. No. 13] is granted and the
Commissioner's cross-motion for summary judgment [Doc.
No. 21] is denied.
filed her applications for DIB and SSI in July 2013, alleging
disability beginning in August 1, 2012, due to tendinitis.
(R. 193-206, 246.) Her application was denied initially and
again upon reconsideration. (R. 68-109.) Plaintiff appeared
for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”) on April 27, 2015. (R. 32-67.) She was
represented by counsel. (Id.) A vocational expert,
Linda Gels, was also present at the hearing and testified.
(Id.) During the hearing, Plaintiff amended her
alleged onset date to February 1, 2015. (R. 57.) On June 15,
2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision finding
Plaintiff was not disabled. (R. 16-31.) The Appeals Council
(“AC”) denied review on September 14, 2016,
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.)
15, 2015, the ALJ issued an unfavorable written determination
finding Plaintiff was not disabled. (R. 16-31.) At step one,
the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since August 1, 2012, her
alleged onset date and met the insured status requirements of
the Act through December 31, 2014. (R. 21.) At step two, the
ALJ found that Plaintiff suffered from severe impairments of
cervical spondylosis and arthritis in shoulders. (R. 22.) At
step three, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff did not have an
impairment or combination of impairments that meet or medical
equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20
C.F.R. Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R.
404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d), 416.925, and
step four, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had the residual
functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform work at a
light exertional level, subject to several
limitations. At step four, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff was capable of performing her past relevant work as
a cosmetologist and sales representative. (R. 25.) Because of
this determination, the ALJ found that Plaintiff is not
disabled under the Act. (R. 25-26.)
the Act, a person is disabled if he 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 plaintiff is
disabled, the ALJ considers the following five questions in
order: (1) Is the plaintiff presently unemployed? (2) Does
the plaintiff 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
plaintiff unable to perform his former occupation? and (5) Is
the plaintiff unable to perform any other work? 20 C.F.R.
affirmative answer at either step three or step five leads to
a finding that the plaintiff is disabled. Young v.
Sec'y of Health & Human Servs., 957 F.2d 386,
389 (7th Cir. 1992). A negative answer to any remaining
question precludes a finding of disability. Id. The
plaintiff bears the burden of proof at steps one through
four. Id. Once the plaintiff shows an inability to
perform past work, the burden then shifts to the Commissioner
to show the plaintiff's ability to engage in other work
existing in significant numbers in the national economy.
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,
resolving conflicts in evidence, or deciding questions of
credibility. Skinner, 478 F.3d at 841; see also