United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
HEATHER D. BOLE, Plaintiff,
NANCY A. BERRYHILL, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
DECISION AND ORDER
JOSEPH United States Magistrate Judge.
Bole seeks judicial review of the final decision of the
Commissioner of the Social Security Administration denying
her claim for supplemental security income under the Social
Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). For the reasons stated
below, the Commissioner's decision is reversed and the
case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this
decision pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g), sentence four.
applied for supplemental security income, alleging she had
been disabled since October 7, 2009 due to diabetes, a
learning disability, seizures, and high blood pressure. (Tr.
258.) Bole's claims were denied initially and upon
reconsideration. A hearing was held before an Administrative
Law Judge on March 27, 2012. (Tr. 81.) On August 24, 2012,
the ALJ issued an unfavorable decision (Tr. 40-54) and Bole
requested Appeals Council review, which was denied (Tr. 20).
Bole subsequently filed a civil action in the United States
District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin and on
November 9, 2015, I granted the parties' joint motion to
remand Bole's case for further proceedings. (Tr. 953-54.)
Appeals Council issued a remand order on January 14, 2016,
which directed that Bole's newly filed SSI application be
consolidated with the old, remanded case. (Tr. 962-64.) A new
hearing was held on April 26, 2016. (Tr. 863.) Bole,
represented by counsel, testified at this hearing, as did
Leslie Goldsmith, a vocational expert. (Id.)
written decision issued June 2, 2016, the ALJ found Bole had
the severe impairments of diabetes mellitus, left shoulder
impairment, and bipolar disorder. (Tr. 835.) The ALJ further
found that Bole did not have an impairment or combination of
impairments that met or medically equaled one of the listed
impairments in 20 C.F.R. pt. 404, subpt. P, app. 1 (the
“Listings”). (Id.) The ALJ found Bole
had the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform light work with the following limitations: she can
perform no more than five pounds lifting with her left hand;
she is precluded from more than occasional climbing of ramps
and stairs; she is precluded from any climbing of ropes,
ladders or scaffolds; she is precluded from more than
frequent reaching with her left (non-dominant) hand/arm; she
is precluded from work exposing her to concentrated dust,
fumes, smoke, chemicals or noxious gases; and she is
precluded from work at unprotected heights, around dangerous
machinery, or at temperature extremes. Bole was further
limited to no more than frequent interaction with the general
public and only occasional interaction with supervisors; she
is limited to performing simple, routine tasks in a job
requiring few, if any work place changes; she has limited
reading and math abilities; and she is likely to be off task
for about 5-10% of the workday in addition to regularly
scheduled breaks from work.
subsequently filed this action in federal court, without
Appeals Council review. (Pl.'s Br. at 2, Docket # 15.)
Applicable Legal Standards
Commissioner's final decision will be upheld if the ALJ
applied the correct legal standards and supported his
decision with substantial evidence. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g);
Jelinek v. Astrue, 662 F.3d 805, 811 (7th Cir.
2011). Substantial evidence is not conclusive evidence; it is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.” Schaaf
v. Astrue, 602 F.3d 869, 874 (7th Cir. 2010) (internal
quotation and citation omitted). 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, 662 F.3d at 811. 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 SSA's 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)).
Application to this Case
alleges that the ALJ erred in four ways. First, she argues
the ALJ failed to consider the opinion of her treating mental
health nurse practitioner. Second, she argues the ALJ
improperly assessed her RFC as to her mental impairments.
Third, she argues the ALJ improperly assessed her RFC as to
her physical impairments. Finally, Bole argues the ALJ erred