United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
DECISION AND ORDER
WILLIAM C. GRIESBACH, CHIEF JUDGE.
an action for review of the final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security denying plaintiff's
application for Social Security Disability Insurance.
Plaintiff, Melissa Holz, challenges the Administrative Law
Judge's (ALJ's) decision denying her benefits. For
the reasons given below, the decision of the Commissioner
will be reversed and remanded for further proceedings.
filed an application for Social Security Disability Insurance
on April 7, 2011, alleging disability due to multiple
sclerosis (MS) and fibromyalgia. She was 41 years of age at
the time. Holz was diagnosed with MS in 2001. R. 432. The
record indicates that, in 2010, even though her MS was
“stable without any significant recent flare-ups,
” Holz received treatment for memory loss and fatigue
attributed to the MS. R. 798. In 2010, Holz was diagnosed
with fibromyalgia. R. 310. She also suffered from depression
and anxiety for many years. R. 311, 715, 717.
Social Security Administration (SSA) denied Holz's
application on August 18, 2011. R. 111. After her application
and request for reconsideration were denied, Holz requested
an administrative hearing. R. 128. ALJ Patrick Morrison held
a hearing on November 5, 2013. Both Holz and a vocational
expert (VE) testified at the hearing. R. 36-83.
found Holz's severe impairments included relapsing and
remitting MS, fibromyalgia, obesity, degenerative disc
disease of the lumbar spine, major depression, and anxiety.
R. 92. At step three, the ALJ determined that Holz's
impairments did not meet or medically equal any listed
impairments under 20 C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix
1. R. 93. The ALJ found that the degenerative disc disease of
the lumbar spine did not meet the requirements of section
1.04 because Holz was able to ambulate effectively.
Id. The ALJ also concluded the MS did not meet the
requirements of section 11.09 because it did not result in a
significant and persistent disorganization of motor
functioning in two extremities and did not lead to visual or
mental impairment. Id. The ALJ found that Holz had
moderate difficulties in social functioning and
concentration, persistence, or pace but found that Holz's
mental impairments were not so severe as to meet or medically
equal the criteria of listings in 12.04 and 12.06.
Id. The ALJ determined Holz had the following
residual functional capacity (RFC):
the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform
sedentary work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(a)
except she is limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks
requiring no more than simple work-related decisions with few
changes in the routine work setting and no more than
occasional interaction with supervisors, coworkers, and the
With these limitations, the ALJ found that Holz was unable to
perform past relevant work as an inventory analyst, inventory
data entry, procurement clerk, and production planner. R. 99.
the ALJ found that given Holz's age, education, work
experience, and RFC, there were a significant number of jobs
in the national economy she could perform. Id. Based
on these findings, the ALJ concluded Holz was not disabled
within the meaning of the Social Security Act. R. 100. The
ALJ's decision became the final decision of the
Commissioner when the Appeals Counsel denied Holz's
request for review on May 5, 2015. R. 1. Thereafter, Holz
commenced this action for judicial review.
judicial review, a court will uphold the Commissioner's
decision if the ALJ applied the correct legal standards and
supported his decision with substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). “Substantial evidence is ‘such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind could accept as
adequate to support a conclusion.'” Schaaf v.
Astrue, 602 F.3d 869, 874 (7th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)).
Although a decision denying benefits need not discuss every
piece of evidence, remand is appropriate when an ALJ fails to
provide adequate support for the conclusions drawn.
Jelinek v. Astrue, 662 F.3d 805, 811 (7th Cir.
2011). The ALJ must provide a “logical bridge”
between the evidence and his conclusions. Clifford v.
Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 872 (7th Cir. 2000).
is also expected to follow the Agency's own rulings and
regulations in making a determination. Failure to do so,
unless the error is harmless, requires reversal.
Prochaska v. Barnhart, 454 F.3d 731, 736-37 (7th
Cir. 2006). In reviewing the entire record, the court does
not substitute its judgment for that of the Commissioner by
reconsidering facts, reweighing evidence, resolving conflicts
in evidence, or deciding questions of credibility. Estok
v. Apfel, 152 F.3d 636, 638 (7th Cir. 1998). Finally,
judicial review is limited to the rationales offered by the
ALJ. Shauger v. Astrue, 675 F.3d 690, 697 (7th Cir.
2012) (citing SEC v. Chenery Corp., 318 U.S. 80,
93-95 (1943); Campbell v. Astrue, 627 F.3d 299, 307
(7th Cir. 2010)).