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Angel L. Rosado v. Commissioner of Social Security

November 8, 2011

ANGEL L. ROSADO,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: William H. Baughman, Jr. Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Introduction

This is an action for judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security denying the application of the plaintiff, Angel L. Rosado, for supplemental security income. The parties have consented to magistrate judge's jurisdiction.

The Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), whose decision became the final decision of the Commissioner, found that Rosado had severe impairments consisting of obesity, lower extremity edema, sleep apnea, and depression.*fn1 The ALJ made the following finding regarding Rosado's residual functional capacity:

After careful consideration of the entire record, I find that the claimant has the residual functional capacity to perform sedentary work as defined in 20 CFR 416.967(a) except for the following limitations: no climbing, balancing, stooping, crouching, crawling, or kneeling; no more than the most basic reading, writing, or math skills; limited to simple, routine, repetitive tasks, not performed in a fast-paced production environment, involving only simple, work-related decisions and, in general, relatively few work place changes; limited to occupations not involving high levels of stress, i.e. not requiring independent decision making; no interaction with general public, and only incidental interaction with supervisors or co-workers.*fn2 Given that residual functional capacity, the ALJ found Rosado had no past relevant work.*fn3

Based on an answer to a hypothetical question posed to the vocational expert at the hearing setting forth the residual functional capacity finding quoted above, the ALJ determined that a significant number of jobs existed nationally that Rosado could perform.*fn4 The ALJ, therefore, found Rosado not under a disability.*fn5

Rosado asks for reversal of the Commissioner's decision on the ground that it does not have the support of substantial evidence in the administrative record. Specifically, Rosado argues that the ALJ failed to evaluate, weigh , and articulate as to the opinions of the medical sources treating his mental impairments and that substantial evidence does not support the ALJ's residual functional capacity and substantial numbers findings.

I conclude that the ALJ's finding of no disability is supported by substantial evidence and, therefore, must be affirmed.

Analysis

A. Standard of review

The Sixth Circuit in Buxton v. Halter reemphasized the standard of review applicable to decisions of the ALJs in disability cases:

Congress has provided for federal court review of Social Security administrative decisions. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g). However, the scope of review is limited under 42 U.S.C. § 405(g): "The findings of the Secretary as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall be conclusive...." In other words, on review of the Commissioner's decision that claimant is not totally disabled within the meaning of the Social Security Act, the only issue reviewable by this court is whether the decision is supported by substantial evidence. Substantial evidence is " 'more than a mere scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.' "

The findings of the Commissioner are not subject to reversal merely because there exists in the record substantial evidence to support a different conclusion.

This is so because there is a "zone of choice" within which the Commissioner can act, without the fear of court interference.*fn6 Viewed in the context of a jury trial, all that is necessary to affirm is that reasonable minds could reach different conclusions on the evidence. If such is the case, the Commissioner survives "a directed verdict" and wins.*fn7 The court may not disturb ...

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