United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
JACK A. PRZYBYLSKI, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, Commissioner of Social Security, Defendant.
DECISION AND ORDER
JOSEPH, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Przybylski, who is representing himself in this appeal, seeks
judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of
the Social Security Administration denying his claim for
disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security
income (SSI) under the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. Â§
405(g). For the reasons below, the Commissioner's
decision will be reversed and remanded for further
proceedings consistent with this decision pursuant to 42
U.S.C. Â§ 405(g), sentence four.
filed applications for a period of disability and disability
insurance benefits and for supplemental security income
alleging disability beginning on December 1, 2010. (Tr. 217,
219.) Przybylski's applications were denied initially and
upon reconsideration. (Tr. 79- 80, 100-01.) A hearing was
held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) on January 31,
2017. (Tr. 37-78.) Przybylski testified at the hearing, as
did a vocational expert. (Id.)
written decision issued July 27, 2017, the ALJ found that
Przybylski had the severe impairments of coronary artery
disease, status post stenting; left ankle fracture, status-
post open reduction internal fixation (ORIF); obesity; and
right knee degenerative joint disease. (Tr. 22.) The ALJ
found that Przybylski had the non-severe impairments of
hypertension, hyperlipidemia, gastroesophogeal reflux
disease, restless leg syndrome, anxiety, and depression. (Tr.
23.) The ALJ found that Przybylski 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”). (Tr. 24.) The ALJ found
that Przybylski had the residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform light work as defined in 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b) except he can
occasionally climb ladders, ropes, or scaffolds; he can
frequently climb ramps and stairs and can frequently balance;
and he can tolerate occasional exposure to hazards, such as
moving machinery and unprotected heights. (Tr. 24- 25.)
found Przybylski capable of performing his past relevant work
as a chauffeur driver and as an office machine servicer. (Tr.
29.) The ALJ alternatively found that given Przybylski's
age, education, work experience, and RFC, other jobs existed
in significant numbers in the national economy that he could
also perform. (Tr. 31.) As such, the ALJ found that
Przybylski was not disabled from the alleged onset date until
the date of the decision. (Tr. 31.) The ALJ's decision
became the Commissioner's final decision when the Appeals
Council denied the Przybylski's request for review. (Tr.
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)).
argues that the denial of his applications should be reversed
for four reasons: (1) he is unable to work due to his
symptoms; (2) the decision was based on inaccurate
information; (3) his doctors were unwilling to cooperate in
his applications; and (4) his representation by counsel at
the administrative level was inadequate. (Docket # 18.) I
will address each argument in turn.
Evaluation of Subjective Complaints
argues that the ALJ's decision is erroneous because he
is, in fact, unable to work due to severe pain in his left
foot combined with problems with his right knee and wrist.
(Docket # 18 at 5-6.) I construe this as a challenge to the
ALJ's finding that Pryzyblski's allegations about the
intensity, persistence, and limiting effects of his symptoms
were inconsistent with the evidence.
Commissioner's regulations set forth a two-step test for
evaluating a claimant's statements regarding his
symptoms. First, the ALJ must determine whether the claimant
suffers from a medically determinable impairment that could
reasonably be expected to produce the alleged symptoms. SSR
16-3p. Second, if the claimant has such an impairment, the
ALJ must evaluate the intensity and persistence of the
symptoms to determine the extent to which they limit the
claimant's ability to work. Id. If the
statements are not substantiated by objective medical
evidence, the ALJ must evaluate the intensity, persistence,
and limiting effects of the alleged symptoms based on the
entire record and considering a variety of factors, including
the claimant's daily activities; the location, duration,
frequency, and intensity of the symptoms; factors that
precipitate and aggravate the symptoms; the type, dosage,
effectiveness, and side effects of any medication the
claimant takes; treatment, other than medication, used for
relief of the symptoms; other measures the claimant uses to
relieve the symptoms; and any other factors concerning the
claimant's functional limitations due to the symptoms.
Id. While an ALJ “may discount subjective
complaints of pain that are inconsistent with ...