Stage v. Colvin, No. 15-1837 (7th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Stage slipped two discs while working in a factory in 1985. She continued working. Her pain became more severe. By 2007, she had been diagnosed with arthritis in her back, hips, left leg, and shoulders; spinal degeneration; a tear in a disc joint; and mild degenerative disc disease. Stage is 5’6” tall and weighed over 200 pounds and also suffered from hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and hypothyroidism, which made her obesity difficult to control. Stage applied for benefits, claiming that debilitating back and hip pain rendered her unable to work after October 2009. Her last job was general kitchen work at a residential‐care facility. She had previously worked as a cook, bartender, and factory laborer. The district court upheld denial of her application for supplemental security income, disability insurance benefits, and disabled widow’s benefits. Stage was then 56 years old. The Seventh Circuit reversed, finding that the ALJ discounted significant new evidence submitted after an agency doctor reviewed Stage's medical records, gave little weight to her treating physician’s opinion, discredited her testimony about pain without adequate support, and overstated her residual functional capacity. The ALJ’s evaluation of her medical evidence was unreasonable; substantial evidence did not support his finding that she remained capable of performing light work.