United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. Rowland United States Magistrate Judge.
Lawrence P. filed this action seeking reversal of the
final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying
his application for Disability Insurance Benefits (DIB) and
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under the Social Security
Act (the Act). The parties consented to the jurisdiction of
the United States Magistrate Judge, pursuant to 28 U.S.C
§ 636(c). For the reasons stated below, the Court grants
the Commissioner's motion for summary judgment  and
denies Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment . The
Commissioner's decision is affirmed.
applied for DIB and SSI on May 20, 2014, alleging that he
became disabled on January 14, 2011. (R. at 18). The
application was denied initially and on reconsideration,
after which Plaintiff filed a timely request for a hearing.
(Id. at 135- 37). On May 12, 2017, Plaintiff,
represented by counsel, testified at a hearing before an
Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). (Id. at 884-911).
The ALJ also heard testimony from Tammie C. Donaldson, a
vocational expert (VE). (Id. at 906). The ALJ denied
Plaintiff's request for benefits on August 23, 2017.
(Id. at 18-31). Applying the five-step sequential
evaluation process, the ALJ found, at step one, that
Plaintiff had not engaged in substantial gainful activity
since his alleged onset date of January 14, 2011.
(Id. at 21). At step two, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff had severe impairments of morbid obesity and
asthma. (Id.). At step three, the ALJ determined
that Plaintiff does not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that meets or medically equals the severity of
any of the enumerated listings in the regulations.
(Id. at 22). The ALJ then assessed Plaintiff's
Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) and determined that
Plaintiff has the RFC to perform medium work, except:
[He] can never climb ladders, ropes or scaffolds. He can
occasionally climb ramps and stairs. He can occasionally
balance, kneel or crawl. In addition, the claimant can
tolerate occasional exposure to extremes of temperature and
fumes, odors, dusts or gases. He can tolerate occasional
exposure to hazards.
(Id. at 22). Based on Plaintiff's RFC and the
VE's testimony, the ALJ determined at step four that
Plaintiff was unable to perform any past relevant work.
(Id. at 29). However the ALJ concluded that
considering Plaintiff's age, education, work experience,
and RFC, there are jobs that exist in significant numbers in
the national economy that the Plaintiff can perform.
(Id. at 30). Accordingly, the ALJ concluded that
Plaintiff was not under a disability, as defined by the Act,
from the alleged onset date of January 14, 2011 through the
date of the ALJ's decision. (Id. at 31). The
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for review on
July 3, 2018. (Id. 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 Social Security Administration (SSA).
42 U.S.C. § 405(g). The Court may not engage in its own
analysis of whether the plaintiff is disabled 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.”
Young v. Barnhart, 362 F.3d 995, 1001 (7th Cir.
2004). The Court's task is “limited to determining
whether the ALJ's factual findings are supported by
substantial evidence.” Id. Substantial
evidence “must be more than a scintilla but may be less
than a preponderance.” Skinner v. Astrue, 478
F.3d 836, 841 (7th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). In
addition, the ALJ must “explain his analysis of the
evidence with enough detail and clarity to permit meaningful
appellate review.” Scrogham v. Colvin, 765
F.3d 685, 695 (7th Cir. 2014) (internal quotations and
“[w]e will uphold the ALJ's decision if it is
supported by substantial evidence, that is, such relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to
support a conclusion.” Moore v. Colvin,
1120-21 (7th Cir. 2014) (internal quotations and citation
omitted). The court “cannot substitute its own judgment
for that of the SSA by reevaluating the facts, or reweighing
the evidence to decide whether a claimant is in fact
disabled.” Stephens v. Berryhill, 888 F.3d
323, 327 (7th Cir. 2018). “[I]f reasonable minds can
differ over whether the applicant is disabled, we must uphold
the decision under review.” Shideler v.
Astrue, 688 F.3d 306, 310 (7th Cir. 2012). See also
Moon v. Colvin, 763 F.3d 718, 721 (7th Cir. 2014)
(standard of review is deferential).
request for reversal or remand, Plaintiff argues that the ALJ
erred in her assessment of the treating source opinion,
medical evidence, and Plaintiff's hearing testimony.
Plaintiff contends the ALJ should have found him capable of
only sedentary work and in addition, failed to develop the
record. The Court finds the ALJ's decision was supported
by substantial evidence.
ALJ Did Not Err in Giving No. Weight to the Treating Doctor
March 13, 2017, internist Dr. Jaskaran Sethi, Plaintiff's
treating doctor, completed a two-page physical capacities
evaluation form. (R. at 880-82). In the evaluation, Dr.
Sethi marked the box next to “sedentary” to
indicate Plaintiff's work capacity. The ALJ gave no
weight to this assessment. (R. at 29). This was not error.
The ALJ gave good reasons for discounting Dr. Sethi's
treating physician's opinion regarding the nature and
severity of a medical condition is entitled to controlling
weight if it is well supported by medical findings
and not inconsistent with other substantial evidence in the
record.” Stephens, 888 F.3d at 328 (emphasis
added) (internal citations and quotations omitted). An ALJ
may give less than controlling weight “to medical
opinions based on subjective reports.” Britt v.
Berryhill, 889 F.3d 422, 426 (7th Cir.
to Plaintiff's assertion (Dkt. 16 at 11), and as
discussed below, the ALJ sufficiently addressed the
regulatory factors in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1527(c). She did
not need to specifically discuss each one. The Seventh
Circuit has stated that “[i]n weighing a treating
physician's opinion, an ALJ must consider the factors
found in 20 C.F.R. § 416.927(c), but need only
‘minimally articulate' his reasoning; the ALJ
need not explicitly discuss and weigh each
factor.” Collins v. Berryhill, 743 Fed.Appx.
21, 25 (7th Cir. 2018) (emphasis added).
acknowledged Dr. Sethi was Plaintiff's internist but gave
several reasons why she discounted his opinion: (1) it was
based on subjective complaints; (2) it was inconsistent with
treatment notes; (3) Plaintiff's conditions were
controlled and/or being treated; (4) Plaintiff did not report
any complaints about his arms to his doctor; (5) Plaintiff
was instructed to engage in daily aerobic ...