United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
DECISION AND ENTRY: (1) AFFIRMING THE ALJ'S
NON-DISABILITY FINDING AS SUPPORTED BY SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE;
AND (2) TERMINATING THIS CASE ON THE DOCKET
MICHAEL J. NEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Social Security disability benefits appeal is before the
undersigned for disposition based upon the parties' full
consent. Doc. 11. At issue is whether the Administrative Law
Judge ("ALJ") erred in finding Plaintiff not
"disabled" and therefore unentitled to Supplemental
Security Income ("SSI"). This case is before the
Court on Plaintiffs Statement of Errors (doc. 11), the
Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 12),
Plaintiffs reply (doc. 13), the administrative record (doc.
6, 7),  and the record as a whole.
filed for SSI on January 20, 2011. PageID 189-94. Plaintiff
claims disability as a result of a number of alleged
impairments including, inter alia, degenerative disc
disease of the lumbar spine, cataracts, a retinal defect,
borderline intellectual functioning, anxiety and an affective
disorder. PageID 482.
an initial denial of her application, Plaintiff received a
hearing before ALJ David Redmond on March 13, 2013. PageID
57-77. ALJ Redmond issued a written decision on April 26,
2013 finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 41-51. After the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiffs request for review,
Plaintiff appealed to this Court. PageID 32-26, 573.
Following the filing of the parties' joint stipulation
for remand, the Court reversed ALJ Redmond's
non-disability finding and remanded the case for further
proceedings. PageID 571-77.
remand, Plaintiff received a hearing before ALJ Benjamin
Chaykin on March 1, 2016. PageID 504-40. ALJ Chaykin issued a
written decision on March 15, 2016 finding Plaintiff not
disabled. PageID 495-96. Specifically, the ALJ found at Step
Five that, based upon Plaintiffs residual functional capacity
("RFC") to perform a reduced range of medium work,
"there are jobs in significant numbers in the national
economy that [Plaintiff] can perform[.]" PageID 485-95.
Plaintiff did not seek Appeals Council review of ALJ
Chaykin's decision, and instead elected to file a
complaint in this Court. See 20 C.F.R. §
416.1484(d) (stating that, in a case remanded by a federal
court, "[i]f no exceptions are filed and the Appeals
Council does not assume jurisdiction of [the] case, the
decision of the [ALJ] becomes the final decision of the
Commissioner after remand"). The case is now before the
Court on Plaintiff timely appeal. See 20 C.F.R.
§ 416.1484(c) and (d).
Evidence of Record
evidence of record is adequately summarized in the ALJ
Chaykin's (hereinafter referred to as "the
ALJ") decision (PageID 479-96), Plaintiffs Statement of
Errors (doc. 11), the Commissioner's memorandum in
opposition (doc. 12), and Plaintiffs reply (doc. 13). The
undersigned incorporates all of the foregoing and sets forth
the facts relevant to this appeal herein.
Standard of Review
Court's inquiry on a Social Security appeal is to
determine (1) whether the ALJ's non-disability finding is
supported by substantial evidence, and (2) whether the ALJ
employed the correct legal criteria. 42 U.S.C. § 405(g);
Bowen v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec, 478 F.3d 742,
745-46 (6th Cir. 2007). In performing this review, the Court
must consider the record as a whole. Hephner v.
Mathews, 574 F.2d 359, 362 (6th Cir. 1978).
evidence is "such relevant evidence as a reasonable mind
might accept as adequate to support a conclusion."
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971).
When substantial evidence supports the ALJ's denial of
benefits, that finding must be affirmed, even if substantial
evidence also exists in the record upon which the ALJ could
have found Plaintiff disabled. Buxton v. Halter, 246
F.3d 762, 772 (6th Cir. 2001). Thus, the ALJ has a
'"zone of choice' within which he [or she] can
act without the fear of court interference."
Id. at 773.
second judicial inquiry - reviewing the correctness of the
ALJ's legal analysis - may result in reversal even if the
ALJ's decision is supported by substantial evidence in
the record. Robbers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec, 582
F.3d 647, 651 (6th Cir. 2009). "[A] decision of the
Commissioner will not be upheld where the [Social Security
Administration] fails to follow its own regulations and where
that error ...