United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, Dayton
DAVID L. DUNHAM, Plaintiff,
COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY, Defendant.
H. Rice District Judge.
AND RECOMMENDATION 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
MICHAEL J. NEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
a Social Security disability benefits appeal. At issue is
whether the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”)
erred in finding Plaintiff not “disabled” and
therefore unentitled to Disability Insurance Benefits
(“DIB”). This case is before the Court upon
Plaintiffs Statement of Errors (doc. 8), the
Commissioner's memorandum in opposition (doc. 12),
Plaintiffs reply (doc. 13), the administrative record (doc.
6), and the record as a whole.
filed an application for DIB asserting disability as of
October 10, 2011 as a result of a number of impairments
including, inter alia, degenerative disc disease.
an initial denial of his application, Plaintiff received a
hearing before ALJ Eric Anschuetz on June 12, 2015. PageID
60-107. The ALJ issued a written decision on August 17, 2015
finding Plaintiff not disabled. PageID 45-55. Specifically,
the ALJ found at Step Four that, based upon Plaintiff's
residual functional capacity (“RFC”) to perform a
reduced range of light work,  he “was capable of
performing past relevant work as an Insurance Sales Agent or
Fund Raising Director.” PageID 54-55.
the Appeals Council denied review on August 3, 2016, making
the ALJ's non-disability finding the final administrative
decision of the Commissioner. PageID 30-33. 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 45-55), Plaintiff's Statement of Errors
(doc. 8), the Commissioner's memorandum in opposition
(doc. 12), and Plaintiff's reply (doc. 13). The
undersigned incorporates all of the foregoing and sets forth
the facts relevant to this decision 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