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Ball v. Saul

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

July 25, 2019

CLAIRE BALL, Plaintiff,
v.
ANDREW SAUL, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Defendant.[1]

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JAMES D. PETERSON, DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Claire Ball seeks judicial review of a final decision of defendant Andrew Saul, Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, finding Ball not disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act. Ball raises numerous objections on appeal, but the court concludes that none of them require a remand. The court will affirm the commissioner's decision and cancel the oral argument scheduled for August 6, 2019.

         ANALYSIS

         Administrative Law Judge Ahavaha Pyrtel reached the following conclusions that are relevant to the appeal: (1) Ball suffers from four severe impairments (inflammatory arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, and obesity) and several nonsevere impairments, including anxiety; (2) Ball can perform light work, with some additional restrictions, including that “she must be able to exercise a sit/stand at will as often as every 30 minutes, provided that she is not off-task more than 10% each work day, ” R. 39;[2] and (3) Ball can perform her past relevant work as a case aid and preschool teacher as well as other jobs in the national economy such as referral clerk and museum registrar.

         Ball raises the following issues on appeal:

1. The ALJ provided an internally inconsistent residual functional capacity assessment (RFC) as it relates to a sit/stand option.
2. The ALJ failed to explain why she believed that Ball would be off task 10 percent of the time.
3. The ALJ failed to address the combined effects of Ball's severe impairments.
4. The ALJ failed to include any restrictions related to concentration, persistence, or pace in the RFC.
5. The ALJ failed to compare the duties of Ball's past jobs with her current abilities.
6. The ALJ didn't identify specific skills that would allow Ball to perform other jobs and didn't explain how any skills would transfer to the other jobs.
7. The Appeals Council erred in rejecting new evidence that Ball submitted.
8. The ALJ conducted a faulty evaluation of Ball's subjective complaints.

         The court will address each issue in turn.

         A. Evaluation of subjective complaints

         Although Ball addresses this issue last in her briefs, the court will address it first because it overlaps with some of Ball's other arguments. In evaluating Ball's subjective complaints, the ALJ correctly articulated the two-step process by noting that an ALJ first must determine whether the claimant has an impairment that could produce her symptoms and second must evaluate the severity of those symptoms. R. 40. The ALJ also stated that Ball's statements were “not entirely consistent” with the evidence, R. 46, which is language that the court of appeals has criticized repeatedly. E.g., Stark v. Colvin, 813 F.3d 684, 688 (7th Cir. 2016). But an ALJ's use of incorrect ...


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