United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
JUSTIN M. S.,  Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER of SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
G. WILKERSON, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
accordance with 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), plaintiff,
represented by counsel, seeks judicial review of the final
agency decision denying his application for Supplemental
Security Income (SSI) benefits and Child Disability Benefits
(CDB) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423.
filed an application for SSI and CDB in March 2015, alleging
disability as of September 5, 2011. After holding an
evidentiary hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
denied the application in January 2018. (Tr. 17-29). The
Appeals Council denied review, and the decision of the ALJ
became the final agency decision. (Tr. 1). Administrative
remedies have been exhausted and a timely complaint was filed
in this Court.
Raised by Plaintiff
raises the following point:
The ALJ erred by failing to account for moderate deficits of
concentration, persistence, or pace in the RFC finding.
qualify for Child Disability Benefits or SSI benefits, a
claimant must be disabled pursuant to the Social Security
Act. Under the Social Security Act, a person is disabled if
she 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). 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 her former occupation? and (5) Is
the plaintiff unable to perform any other work? 20 C.F.R.
affirmative answer at either step 3 or step 5 leads to a
finding that the plaintiff is disabled. Zurawski v.
Halter, 245 F.3d 881, 886 (7th Cir. 2001). A negative
answer at any step, other than at step 3, precludes a finding
of disability. Ibid. The plaintiff bears the burden
of proof at steps 1-4. Ibid. 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. Ibid.
Court reviews the Commissioner's decision to ensure that
the decision is supported by substantial evidence and that no
mistakes of law were made. It is important to recognize that
the scope of review is limited. “The 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). Thus, this Court must determine not
whether plaintiff was, in fact, disabled at the relevant
time, but whether the ALJ's findings were supported by
substantial evidence and whether any errors of law were made.
Lopez ex rel. Lopez v. Barnhart, 336 F.3d 535, 539
(7th Cir. 2003). This Court uses the Supreme Court's
definition of substantial evidence, i.e., “such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.” Biestek v.
Berryhill, 139 S.Ct. 1148, 1154 (2019) (internal
reviewing for “substantial evidence, ” the entire
administrative record is taken into consideration, but this
Court does not reweigh evidence, resolve conflicts, decide
questions of credibility, or substitute its own judgment for
that of the ALJ. Burmester v. Berryhill, 920 F.3d
507, 510 (7th Cir. 2019). However, while judicial
review is deferential, it is not abject; this Court does not
act as a rubber stamp for the Commissioner. See, Parker
v. Astrue, 597 F.3d 920, 921 (7th Cir. 2010), and cases
Decision of the ALJ
followed the five-step analytical framework described above.
She determined that plaintiff had not worked at the level of
substantial gainful activity since the alleged onset date.
The ALJ found that plaintiff had severe impairments of major
depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder
(GAD), borderline personality disorder (BPD), and
attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
found that plaintiff had the RFC to perform work at all
exertional levels, “limited to work that involves only
simple, routine and repetitive tasks and making simple
work-related decisions.” Additionally, plaintiff could
“occasionally interact with coworkers and supervisors,
but never interact with the general public.” (Tr. 21).
Based on the testimony of a vocational expert (VE), the ALJ
concluded that plaintiff did not have any past relevant work,
but he was able to do jobs which exist in significant numbers
in the national economy.