United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
J. LIMBERT, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Mary Poll (“Plaintiff”) requests judicial review
of the final decision of the Commissioner of Social Security
Administration (“Defendant”) denying her
applications for Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”) and Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”). ECF Dkt. #1. In her brief on the merits,
filed on November 21, 2016, Plaintiff asserts that the
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) erred by: (1)
finding that she did not meet the requirements of Listing
12.05C; and (2) relying on vocational expert
(“VE”) testimony that was inconsistent with the
Dictionary of Occupational Titles (“DOT”). ECF
Dkt. #15. Defendant filed a response brief on January 18,
2017. ECF Dkt. #17. On February 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed a
reply brief. ECF Dkt. #18.
following reasons, the Court AFFIRMS the decision of the ALJ
and dismisses the instant case in its entirety with
filed her applications for DIB and SSI in May 2013. ECF Dkt.
#12 (“Tr.”) at 225-35. The claims were denied
initially and upon reconsideration. Id. Following
the denial, Plaintiff requested a hearing before an ALJ,
which was held on March 16, 2015. Id. at 40. On
April 15, 2015, the ALJ denied Plaintiff’s applications
for DIB and SSI. Id. at 14. Subsequently, the
Appeals Council denied Plaintiff’s request for review
of the ALJ’s decision. Id. at 1. Accordingly,
the decision issued by the ALJ on April 15, 2015, stands as
the final decision.
August 17, 2016, Plaintiff filed the instant suit seeking
review of the ALJ’s decision. ECF Dkt. #1. Plaintiff
filed a brief on the merits on November 21, 2016. ECF Dkt.
#15. Defendant filed a response brief on January 18, 2017.
ECF Dkt. #17. On February 1, 2017, Plaintiff filed a reply
brief. ECF Dkt. #18.
SUMMARY OF RELEVANT PORTIONS OF THE ALJ’S
decision issued on April 15, 2015, the ALJ found that
Plaintiff met the insured status requirements of the Social
Security Act through December 31, 2016. Tr. at 20.
Continuing, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had not engaged
in substantial gainful activity since April 1, 2011, the
alleged onset date. Id. The ALJ then stated that
Plaintiff had the following severe impairments:
osteoarthritis of the bilateral knees with a history of
bilateral knee arthroscopies; diabetes mellitus;
hypertension; hyperlipidemia; bilateral carpal tunnel
syndrome with a history of bilateral carpal tunnel release
procedures; obesity; attention deficit disorder/attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder (“ADD/ADHD”);
dysthymic disorder; major depression; borderline intellectual
functioning/mild mental retardation; reading disorder; and
mathematics disorder. Id.
the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not have an impairment or
combination of impairments that met or medically equaled the
severity of one of the listed impairments in 20 C.F.R. Part
404, Subpart P, Appendix 1. Tr. at 21. When making this
finding, the ALJ discussed Listing 12.05C, stating that
Plaintiff did not meet the criteria of Listing 12.05C because
she did not have a valid verbal, performance, or full scale
IQ of sixty through seventy and a physical or other mental
impairment imposing an additional and significant
work-related limitation of function. Id. at 24. The
ALJ indicated that although Plaintiff demonstrated a verbal
IQ score of sixty-eight and a full scale IQ score of
sixty-five, along with additional impairments, she did not
meet the requirements of Listing 12.05C for a number of
reasons. Id. First, the ALJ stated that the preamble
of Listing 12.05C required that evidence must support a
finding that there were intellectual deficits prior to the
age of twenty-two. Id. The ALJ then indicated that
the IQ scores were obtained when Plaintiff was forty-nine
years old. Id. Additionally, the ALJ determined that
Plaintiff did not meet the requirement of deficits in
adaptive functioning, as she was able to: obtain a
driver’s license; maintain income above substantial
gainful activity levels for approximately fifteen years;
raise two children; maintain her home independently; manage
her finances; and use the Internet. Id. For these
reasons, the ALJ found that Plaintiff did not meet the
requirements of Listing 12.05C. Id.
considering the record, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff had
the residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to
perform less than a full range of light work as defined in 20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), with the
following additional limitations: occasional postural
activities such as crouching, crawling, stooping, kneeling,
and climbing; limited to understanding, remembering, and
carrying out simple, routine, and repetitive tasks;
instructions should be verbally explained and work should not
require reading, writing, or more than basic mathematics;
pace and productivity should not be dictated by an external
source over which she had no control, such as an assembly
line or conveyor belt; the ability to make judgments on
simple work and respond appropriately to usual work
situations and changes in a routine work setting that was
repetitive from day to day with few and expected changes; and
no contact with the public, but she may have occasional
interactions with supervisors and coworkers. Tr. at 25.
discussing Plaintiff’s RFC, the ALJ indicated that
Plaintiff was unable to perform any past relevant work. Tr.
at 31. The ALJ noted that Plaintiff was a younger individual
on the alleged disability onset date, and subsequently
changed age category to closely approaching advanced age.
Id. Continuing, the ALJ stated that Plaintiff had a
limited education, was able to communicate in English, and
that the transferability of job skills was not an issue
because Plaintiff’s past relevant work was unskilled.
Id. at 32. Considering Plaintiff’s age,
education, work experience, and RFC, the ALJ determined that
there were jobs that existed in significant numbers in the
national economy that Plaintiff could perform. Id.
Accordingly, the ALJ found that Plaintiff had not been under
a disability, as defined in the Social Security Act, from
April 1, 2011, the alleged disability onset date, through the
date of the decision. Id. at 33.
STEPS TO EVALUATE ENTITLEMENT TO SOCIAL SECURITY
must proceed through the required sequential steps for
evaluating entitlement to social security benefits. These
1. An individual who is working and engaging in substantial
gainful activity will not be found to be
“disabled” regardless of medical findings (20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(b) and 416.920(b) (1992));
2. An individual who does not have a “severe
impairment” will not be found to be
“disabled” (20 C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(c)
and 416.920(c) (1992));
3. If an individual is not working and is suffering from a
severe impairment which meets the duration requirement, see
20 C.F.R. § 404.1509 and 416.909 (1992), and which meets
or is equivalent to a listed impairment in 20 C.F.R. Pt. 404,
Subpt. P, App. 1, a finding of disabled will be made without
consideration of vocational factors (20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(d) and 416.920(d) (1992));
4. If an individual is capable of performing the kind of work
he or she has done in the past, a finding of “not
disabled” must be made (20 C.F.R. §§
404.1520(e) and 416.920(e) (1992));
5. If an individual’s impairment is so severe as to
preclude the performance of the kind of work he or she has
done in the past, other factors including age, education,
past work experience and residual functional capacity must be
considered to determine if other work can be performed (20
C.F.R. §§ 404.1520(f) and 416.920(f) (1992)).
v. Sullivan, 987 F.2d 328, 332 (6th Cir. 1992). The
claimant has the burden to go forward with the evidence in
the first four steps and the Commissioner has the burden in
the fifth ...