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Leverett v. Commissioner of Social Security

United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division

June 9, 2017

JO-LYNN LEVERETT, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.

          Walter H. Rice District Judge

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION [1] THAT: (1) THE ALJ'S NON-DISABILITY FINDING BE FOUND UNSUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE, AND REVERSED; (2) THIS MATTER BE REMANDED TO THE COMMISSIONER UNDER THE FOURTH SENTENCE OF 42 U.S.C. § 405(g) FOR PROCEEDINGS CONSISTENT WITH THIS OPINION; AND (3) THIS CASE BE CLOSED

          Michael J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge

         This is a Social Security disability benefits appeal. Plaintiff challenges the Administrative Law Judge's (“ALJ”) non-disability finding and conclusion that she is unentitled to Disability Insurance Benefits (“DIB”). This case is before the Court upon Plaintiffs Statement of Errors (doc. 7), the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 8), Plaintiffs reply (doc. 9), the administrative record (doc. 6), and the record as a whole.[2]

         I. A. Procedural History

         Plaintiff filed an application for DIB asserting disability as of May 16, 2008. PageID 173. Plaintiff claims disability as a result of a number of impairments, including, inter alia, lumbar spine degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease of the left knee, residuals of a remote prior left shoulder strain, and depression. PageID 177-78.

         After initial denials of her application, Plaintiff received a hearing before ALJ Gregory Kenyon on October 10, 2014. PageID 192-219. The ALJ issued a written decision on January 30, 2015 finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 173-84. Specifically, the ALJ's findings were as follows:

1. The claimant last met the insured status requirements of the Social Security Act on September 30, 2013.
2. The claimant did not engage in substantial gainful activity during the period from her alleged onset date of May 16, 2008 through her date last insured of September 30, 2013 (20 CFR 404.1571 et seq.).
3. Through the date last insured, the claimant had the following severe impairments: lumbar spine degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease of the left knee, residuals of a remote prior left shoulder strain, and depression (20 CFR 404.1520(c)).
4. Through the date last insured, the claimant did not have an impairment or combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 1 (20 CFR 404.1520(d), 404.1525 and 404.1526).
5. After careful consideration of the entire record, the undersigned finds that, through the date last insured, the claimant had the residual functional capacity [“RFC”] to perform sedentary work[3]as defined in 20 CFR 404.1567(a) except: (1) occasional crouching, crawling, kneeling, stooping, and climbing of ramps and stairs; (2) no climbing of ladders, ropes, and scaffolds; (3) no work around hazards such as unprotected heights or dangerous machinery; (4) frequent overhead reaching with the left upper extremity; (5) standing or walking for no more than 15 minutes at a time; (6) sitting for no more than 45 minutes at a time followed by a one to two minute period during which she would be permitted to stand and stretch; (7) limited to performing unskilled, simple, repetitive tasks; (8) occasional contact with co-workers, supervisors, and the public; (9) no fast paced production work or jobs involving strict production quotas; and (10) limited to performing jobs in a relatively static work environment in which there are no more than occasional changes in the job duties or the work routine and which requires only occasional decision-making.
6. Through the date last insured, the claimant was unable to perform any past relevant work (20 CFR 404.1565).
7. The claimant was born [in] 1978 and was 35 years old, which is defined as a younger individual age 18-44, on the date last insured (20 CFR 404.1563).
8. The claimant has a limited education and is able to communicate in English (20 CFR 404.1564).
9. Transferability of job skills is not material to the determination of disability because using the Medical-Vocational Rules as a framework supports a finding that the claimant is ‘not disabled, ' whether or not the claimant has transferable job skills (See SSR 82-41 and 20 CFR Part 404, Subpart P, Appendix 2).
10. Through the dated last insured, considering the claimant's age, education, work experience, and [RFC], there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the national economy that the claimant could have performed (20 CFR 404.1569 and 404.1569(a)).
11. The claimant was not under a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, at any time from May 16, 2008, the alleged onset date, through September 30, 2013, the date last insured (20 CFR 404.1520(g)).

PageID 173-84.

         Thereafter, the Appeals Council denied review on May 18, 2016 making the ALJ's non- disability finding the final administrative decision of the Commissioner. PageID 60-65. Plaintiff then filed this timely appeal. Cook v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 480 F.3d 432, 435 (6th Cir. 2007) (noting that, “[u]nder the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure, [claimant] had 60 days from the Appeals Council's notice of denial in which to file his appeal”).

         B. Evidence of Record

         In his decision, the ALJ set forth a detailed recitation of the underlying medical evidence in this case. PageID 175-82. Plaintiff, in her Statement of Errors, also summarizes the evidence of record. Doc. 7 at PageID 936-40. The Commissioner, in response to Plaintiff's Statement of Errors, also summarizes the evidence of record. Doc. 8 at PageID 955-57. Except as otherwise ...


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