United States Court of Appeals
Public Health — disability benefits
Where the ALJ failed to address the opinions of the treating physician, the denial of disability benefits is reversed.
“Even if we could follow the ALJ’s reasoning from the brief references to Jelinek’s college coursework and her limited employment, the ALJ’s decision did not build a logical bridge between those activities and his conclusion that she had not met a listing after her eighteenth birthday. See Clifford v. Apfel, 227 F.3d 863, 872 (7th Cir. 2000). An ALJ may consider a claimant’s daily activities when assessing credibility, see Arnold v. Barnhart, 473 F.3d 816, 823 (7th Cir. 2007), but ALJs must explain perceived inconsistencies between a claimant’s activities and the medical evidence. Stewart v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 679, 684 (7th Cir. 2009); Carradine v. Barnhart, 360 F.3d 751, 755 (7th Cir. 2004); Zurawski v. Halter, 245 F.3d 881, 887 (7th Cir. 2001). The ALJ did not do so, and we are hard-pressed to understand how Jelinek’s brief, part-time employment supports a conclusion that she was able to work a full-time job, week in and week out, given her limitations. See Stewart v. Astrue, 561 F.3d 679, 684 (7th Cir. 2009); Diaz v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 499 F.3d 640, 648 (7th Cir. 2007); Zurawski, 245 F.3d at 887. The ALJ did not ask the critical questions about Jelinek’s actual work hours or absentee rates in the jobs she held, and no medical provider or consultant opined that Jelinek could hold down a full-time position. Rather, the record suggests that Jelinek has experienced longstanding problem with absences. The activities the ALJ mentioned reflected only her willingness and ability to stay engaged in commendable but limited endeavors part-time or at her own pace.”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Nuechterlein, Mag. J., Hamilton, J