United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
ZYKITA L. HARRIS, Plaintiff,
ANDREW M. SAUL, Defendant.
DECISION AND ORDER
WILLIAM E. DUFFIN U.S. Magistrate Judge.
Zykita Harris alleges she has been disabled since January 1,
2015, due to depression, lupus, attention-deficit
hyperactivity disorder, stomach pain, and body pain. (Tr. 84,
366.) In July 2014 she applied for disability insurance
benefits and supplemental security income. (Tr. 330-42.)
After her applications were denied initially (Tr. 201-26) and
upon reconsideration (Tr. 227-72), a hearing was held before
an administrative law judge (ALJ) on June 1, 2017 (Tr.
49-85). On December 20, 2017, the ALJ issued a written
decision, concluding that Harris was not disabled. (Tr.
22-44.) The Appeals Council denied Harris's request for
review on October 11, 2018. (Tr. 1-4.) This action followed.
All parties have consented to the full jurisdiction of a
magistrate judge (ECF Nos. 20, 21), and the matter is now
ready for resolution.
determining whether a person is disabled an ALJ applies a
five-step sequential evaluation process. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(a)(4), 416.920(a)(4). At step one, the
ALJ determines whether the claimant has engaged in
substantial gainful activity. 20 C.F.R. §§
404.1571-1576, 416.971-976. The ALJ found that Harris
“has not engaged in substantial gainful activity since
January 1, 2015, the alleged onset date.” (Tr. 27.)
analysis then proceeds to the second step, which is a
consideration of whether the claimant has a medically
determinable impairment or combination of impairments that is
“severe.” 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c),
416.920(c). “In order for an impairment to be
considered severe at this step of the process, the impairment
must significantly limit an individual's ability to
perform basic work activities.” Moore v.
Colvin, 743 F.3d 1118, 1121 (7th Cir. 2014). The ALJ
concluded that Harris “has the following severe
impairments: systemic lupus erythematosus, anxiety disorder,
and depression.” (Tr. 27.)
three, the ALJ determines whether the claimant's
impairment or combination of impairments is of a severity to
meet or medically equal the criteria of the impairments
listed in 20 C.F.R. Part 4, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1520(d), 404.1525, 404.1526, 416.920(d),
416.925, 416.926) (called “The Listings”). If the
impairment or impairments meets or medically equals the
criteria of a listing, and meets the twelve- month duration
requirement, 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1509, 416.909, the
claimant is disabled. If the claimant's impairment or
impairments is not of a severity to meet or medically equal
the criteria set forth in a listing, the analysis proceeds to
the next step. The ALJ found that Harris “does not have
an impairment or combination of impairments that meets or
medically equals the severity of one of the listed
impairments.” (Tr. 28.)
steps three and four, the ALJ must determine the
claimant's residual functional capacity (RFC),
“which is [the claimant's] ‘ability to do
physical and mental work activities on a regular basis
despite limitations from her impairments.'”
Ghiselli v. Colvin, 837 F.3d 771, 774 (7th Cir.
2016) (quoting Moore, 743 F.3d at 1121). In making
the RFC finding, the ALJ must consider all of the
claimant's impairments, including impairments that are
not severe. 20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1529, 416.929; SSR
96-8p. In other words, the RFC determination is a
function-by-function assessment of the claimant's
“maximum work capability.” Elder v.
Asture, 529 F.3d 408, 412 (7th Cir. 2008). The ALJ
concluded that Harris has the RFC
to perform light work . . . except she is limited to
occasional climbing of ladders, ropes, scaffolds, ramps or
stairs and occasional balancing, stooping, crouching,
kneeling, or crawling; she is limited to unskilled work
performing simple, routine, and repetitive tasks; she must be
allowed to be off task 10% of the workday in addition to
regularly scheduled breaks; she is limited to no interaction
with the public and occasional interaction with coworkers
including supervisors; and she is limited to work allowing
individually performed tasks.
determining the claimant's RFC, the ALJ at step four must
determine whether the claimant has the RFC to perform the
requirements of her past relevant work. 20 C.F.R.
§§ 404.1565, 416.965. The ALJ concluded that Harris
was “unable to perform any past relevant work.”
last step of the sequential evaluation process requires the
ALJ to determine whether the claimant can do any other work,
considering her age, education, work experience, and RFC. At
this step, the ALJ concluded that, “[c]onsidering
[Harris's] age, education, work experience, and residual
functional capacity, there are jobs that exist in significant
numbers in the national economy that [Harris] can
perform.” (Tr. 37.) In reaching that conclusion, the
ALJ relied on testimony from a vocational expert (VE) who
testified that a hypothetical individual of Harris's age,
education, work experience, and RFC could perform the
requirements of a food preparation worker, mail clerk,
laundry worker, hand packer, inspector/sorter, and hand stock
and material mover. (Tr. 37-38.)
finding that Harris could perform work in the national
economy, the ALJ concluded that Harris “has not been
under a disability . . . from January 1, 2015, through the
date of this decision.” (Tr. 38.)
court's role in reviewing an ALJ's decision is
limited. It does not look at the evidence anew and make an
independent determination as to whether the claimant is
disabled. Rather, the court must affirm the ALJ's
decision if it is supported by substantial evidence.
Moore, 743 F.3d at 1120. Substantial evidence is
“such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might
accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Id. at 1120-21 (quoting Richardson v.
Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971)). Thus, it ...