United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
PAMELA L. WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY Defendant.
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. 6. At issue is whether the Administrative Law
Judge (“ALJ”) erred in finding Plaintiff not
“disabled” and therefore unentitled to Disability
Insurance Benefits (“DIB”) and/or Supplemental
Security Income (“SSI”). This case is before the
Court on Plaintiff's Statement of Errors (doc. 9), the
Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 12), the
administrative record (doc. 4), and the record as a whole.
filed for DIB and SSI asserting disability as of May 1, 2009.
PageID 212-24. Plaintiff claims disability as a result of a
number of alleged impairments including, inter alia,
cirrhosis of the liver. PageID 35.
initial denial of her applications, Plaintiff received a
hearing before Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
George McHugh on June 23, 2015. PageID 50-86. The ALJ issued
a written decision on April 27, 2015 finding Plaintiff not
disabled. PageID 33-44. Specifically, the ALJ found at Step 5
that, based upon Plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) to perform a reduced range of light work,
Plaintiff “is capable of performing [her] past relevant
work” as well as “other jobs that exists in
significant numbers in the national economy[.]” PageID
the Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request for
review, making the ALJ's non-disability finding the final
administrative decision of the Commissioner. PageID 24-26.
See Casey v. Sec'y of Health & Human Servs.,
987 F.2d 1230, 1233 (6th Cir. 1993). Plaintiff then filed
this timely appeal. Cook v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec.,
480 F.3d 432, 435 (6th Cir. 2007).
Evidence of Record
evidence of record is adequately summarized in the ALJ's
decision (PageID 35-44), Plaintiff's Statement of Errors
(doc. 9), and the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition
(doc. 12). 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. Rabbers 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 prejudices a claimant on the merits or deprives
the claimant of a substantial right.” Bowen,
478 F.3d at 746.
eligible for disability benefits, a claimant must be under a
“disability” as defined by the Social Security
Act. 42 U.S.C. § 423(d)(1)(A). Narrowed to its statutory
meaning, a “disability” includes physical and/or
mental impairments that are both “medically
determinable” and severe enough to prevent a claimant
from (1) performing his or her past job and (2) ...