United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
TERESA G. 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 her application for Disability
Insurance Benefits (DIB) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 423.
applied for SSI and DIB benefits in July 2015, alleging
disability as of June 12, 2010. Claimant was awarded SSI
benefits as of her attainment of age fifty on February 2,
2016, but not before that date. Meanwhile, she was denied DIB
because her date last insured was December 31, 2015,
thirty-three days before she turned age fifty. According to
Grid rules 201.14 and 201.21, because plaintiff had the
residual functional capacity (RFC) to perform between light
and sedentary work prior to her attainment of age fifty and
had no transferrable skills, she was deemed disabled at age
fifty, but not disabled prior to that age.
holding an evidentiary hearing, an ALJ issued a partially
favorable decision on June 8, 2018. (Tr. 15-30). 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
Raised by Plaintiff
raises the following point:
1. The ALJ did not consider the borderline age situation as
required when the claimant is within six months of the higher
age category and applying the higher age category would
result in a favorable decision.
qualify for DIB or SSI, a claimant must be disabled within
the meaning of the applicable statutes. Under the Social
Security 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.
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. § 404.1520.
affirmative answer at either step three or step five leads to
a finding that the plaintiff is disabled. A negative answer
at any step, other than at step three, precludes a finding of
disability. The plaintiff bears the burden of proof at steps
one through four. Once the plaintiff shows an inability to
perform past work, the burden then shifts to the Commissioner
to show that there are jobs existing in significant numbers
in the national economy which plaintiff can perform.
Zurawski v. Halter, 245 F.3d 881, 886 (7th Cir.
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). The Supreme
Court defines substantial evidence as, “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 citations omitted).
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 cited therein.
Decision of the ALJ
followed the five-step analytical framework described above.
He determined that plaintiff had not worked at the level of
substantial gainful activity during the period from her
alleged onset date of June 12, 2010, through her date last
insured of December 31, 2015.
found that plaintiff had severe impairments of right knee
osteoarthritis and ...