United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
L. Litkovitz, United States Magistrate Judge
brings this action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) for
judicial review of the final decision of the Commissioner of
Social Security (Commissioner) denying plaintiffs application
for disability insurance benefits (DIB). This matter is
before the Court on plaintiffs Statement of Errors (Doc. 12)
and the Commissioner's response in opposition (Doc. 17).
filed an application for DIB on March 11, 2013, alleging
disability since January 1, 2013, due to degenerative disc
disease, arthritis of the spine and back, spinal stenosis,
spondylosis, a back injury, left femur surgery, and three
torn tendons in the left bicep. (Tr. 168). Plaintiffs
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
Plaintiff requested and was granted a de novo
hearing before ALJ Deanna Sokolski. Plaintiff was represented
by a non-attorney representative. Plaintiff and a vocational
expert (VE) appeared and testified at the ALJ hearing. On
April 17, 2015, the ALJ issued a decision denying plaintiffs
DIB application. Plaintiffs request for review by the Appeals
Council was denied, making the decision of the ALJ the final
administrative decision of the Commissioner.
Legal Framework for Disability Determinations
qualify for disability benefits, a claimant must suffer from
a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that
can be expected to result in death or that has lasted or can
be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
12 months. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). The impairment must
render the claimant unable to engage in the work previously
performed or in any other substantial gainful employment that
exists in the national economy. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(2).
promulgated by the Commissioner establish a five-step
sequential evaluation process for disability determinations:
1) If the claimant is doing substantial gainful activity, the
claimant is not disabled.
2) If the claimant does not have a severe medically
determinable physical or mental impairment - i.e.,
an impairment that significantly limits his or her physical
or mental ability to do basic work activities - the claimant
is not disabled.
3) If the claimant has a severe impairment(s) that meets or
equals one of the listings in Appendix 1 to Subpart P of the
regulations and meets the duration requirement, the claimant
4) If the claimant's impairment does not prevent him or
her from doing his or her past relevant work, the claimant is
5) If the claimant can make an adjustment to other work, the
claimant is not disabled. If the claimant cannot make an
adjustment to other work, the claimant is disabled.
Rubbers v. Comm 'r of Soc. Sec. 582 F.3d 647,
652 (6th Cir. 2009) (citing §§ 404.1520(a)(4)(i)-
claimant has the burden of proof at the first four steps of
the sequential evaluation process. Id.; Wilson v. Comm
'r of Soc. Sec, 378 F.3d 541, 548 (6th Cir. 2004).
Once the claimant establishes a prima facie case by showing
an inability to perform the relevant previous employment, the
burden shifts to the Commissioner to show that the claimant
can perform other substantial gainful employment and that
such employment exists in the national economy.
Robbers, 582 F.3d at 652; Harmon v. Apfel,
168 F.3d 289, 291 (6th Cir. 1999).
The Administrative Law ...