United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
DECISION AND ORDER AFFIRMING COMMISSIONER'S
William C. Griesbach, Chief Judge United States District
an action for review of the final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security denying Plaintiff Dawn
Wesenick's application for disability and disability
insurance benefits under Title II of the Social Security Act.
42 U.S.C. §§ 401 et seq. For the reasons
stated herein, the Commissioner's decision will be
currently age 48, resides with her husband and
thirteen-year-old daughter in Wausau, Wisconsin. R. 94. Prior
to 2006, Wesenick worked at a scissor company as a general
laborer for fifteen years. R. 102. Wesenick initially applied
for disability and disability insurance benefits on November
6, 2006, alleging disability beginning April 14, 2006. R.
143. She claimed she was disabled due to multiple sclerosis,
osteomyelitis of the lumbar spine resolved, arthritis of the
lumbar spine, obesity, and depressive and anxiety disorders.
R. 146. Her application was denied initially and upon
reconsideration. After these denials, Wesenick filed a
request for an administrative hearing. Administrative Law
Judge (ALJ) Wendy Weber held a hearing at which Wesenick, who
was represented by counsel, an impartial medical expert, and
a vocational expert (VE) testified. R. 143. On January 21,
2010, ALJ Weber concluded Wesenick had the ability to perform
light work after her closed period of disability from April
14, 2006 to April 15, 2007. R. 146-51.
submitted a second application for disability and disability
insurance benefits on November 6, 2012. R. 214. The Social
Security Administration (SSA) denied Wesenick's second
application on March 15, 2013. After her application and
request for reconsideration were denied, she requested an
administrative hearing. ALJ Ben Willner held a hearing on
October 24, 2014. Both Wesenick, who was represented by
counsel, and a VE testified at the hearing. R. 79-113.
decision dated January 20, 2015, ALJ Willner determined
Wesenick was not disabled. R. 19-30. The ALJ concluded
Wesenick met the insured status requirements and had not
engaged in substantial gainful activity since October 17,
2011, her amended alleged onset date. R. 22. The ALJ found
Wesenick had three severe impairments: degenerative disc
disease, multiple sclerosis, and migraine headaches. At step
three, the ALJ determined Wesenick's impairments did not
meet or medically equal any listed impairments under 20
C.F.R. § 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. R. 24. The ALJ
concluded Wesenick had the following residual functional
claimant had the residual functional capacity to perform
light work as defined in 20 C.F.R. § 404.1567(b) except:
she could occasionally climb ramps and stairs; never climb
ladders, ropes or scaffolds; frequently balance, stoop kneel,
crouch, and crawl; and should avoid all exposure to hazards.
Id. With these limitations, the ALJ found that
Wesenick was unable to perform any past relevant work. R. 28.
Nevertheless, the ALJ concluded Wesenick was not disabled
within the meaning of the Social Security Act because there
were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national
economy that she could perform. R. 28-29. The ALJ's
decision became the final decision of the Commissioner when
the Appeals Council denied Wesenick's request for review
on May 27, 2016. R. 1. Thereafter, Wesenick 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 the 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 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.
2010) (citing SEC v. Chenery Corp., 318 U.S. 80,
93-95 (1943); Campbell v. Astrue, 627 F.3d 299, 307
(7th Cir. 2010)).
sole argument in this case is that the ALJ erred by failing
to include limitations attributed to her migraines in the
RFC. An RFC is an administrative assessment describing the
extent to which an individual's impairments may cause
physical or mental limitations or restrictions that could
affect her ability to work. SSR 96-8p, 1996 WL 374184, at *2.
The RFC represents “the maximum a person can do-despite
his limitations-on a ‘regular and continuing basis,
' which means roughly eight hours a day for five days a
week.” Pepper v. Colvin, 712 F.3d 351, 362
(7th Cir. 2013) (quoting SSR 69-8p). In forming the RFC, an
ALJ must review all of the relevant evidence in the record,
including any information about the claimant's symptoms
and any opinions from medical sources about what she can
still do despite her impairments. SSR 96-8p at *2.
asserts that although the ALJ found her migraines to be a
severe impairment, he erred by failing to include limitations
regarding her migraines in the RFC. She contends that the ALJ
failed to provide a narrative or articulate a sufficient
rationale for rejecting any associated limitations. Pl.'s
Br. at 6, ECF No. 11. Wesenick also argues the ALJ did not
include any limitations created by her migraines, such as
missing days from work, working with computer screens, or
working with fluorescent lighting that may be caused by her
migraines. Id. at 10. Because of the ...