United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
L. Graham, United States District Judge.
Ruie Ellen Harris brings this action under 42 U.S.C.
§§405(g) for review of a final decision of the
Commissioner of Social Security (“Commissioner”)
denying her applications for disability insurance benefits
and supplemental security income. In a decision dated
November 19, 2015, the administrative law judge
(“ALJ”) found that plaintiff had severe
impairments consisting of schizoaffective disorder depressive
type, and post-traumatic stress disorder. PAGEID 65. After
considering the entire record, the ALJ found that
plaintiff's residual functional capacity
(“RFC”) would permit her to perform work at all
exertional levels, but
work is limited to simple routine and repetitive tasks in a
work environment free of fast paced production requirements
involving only simple work related decisions with few, if
any, work place changes, only brief and superficial
interaction with [the] public, only occasional interaction
with co-workers, no tandem tasks, [and] only occasional
interaction with supervisors.
66. After considering the testimony of a vocational expert,
the ALJ decided that there were jobs which plaintiff could
perform and that plaintiff was not disabled. PAGEID 69-70.
matter is before the court for consideration of
plaintiff's November 6, 2017, objections to the October
23, 2017, report and recommendation of the magistrate judge
recommending that the decision of the Commissioner be
affirmed. The government has filed a response to the
Standard of Review
party objects within the allotted time to a report and
recommendation, the court “shall make a de
novo determination of those portions of the report or
specified proposed findings or recommendations to which
objection is made.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); see
also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b). Upon review, the court
“may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part,
the findings or recommendations made by the magistrate
judge.” 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).
court's review “is limited to determining whether
the Commissioner's decision ‘is supported by
substantial evidence and was made pursuant to proper legal
standards.'” Ealy v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 594 F.3d 504, 512 (6th Cir. 2010) (quoting
Rogers v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 486 F.3d 234, 241
(6th Cir. 2007)); see also, 42 U.S.C. § 405(g)
(“The findings of the Commissioner of Social Security
as to any fact, if supported by substantial evidence, shall
be conclusive.”). Put another way, a decision supported
by substantial evidence is not subject to reversal, even if
the reviewing court might arrive at a different conclusion.
Mullen v. Bowen, 800 F.2d 535, 545 (6th Cir. 1986).
Even if supported by substantial evidence, however,
“‘a decision of the Commissioner will not be
upheld where the [Commissioner] fails to follow its own
regulations and where that error prejudices a claimant on the
merits or deprives the claimant of a substantial
right.'” Rabbers v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 582 F.3d 647, 651 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Bowen v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 478 F.3d 742, 746
(6th Cir. 2007)).
argues that the RFC formulated by the ALJ failed to
specifically address plaintiff's limitations in the areas
of concentration, persistence, pace, and social functioning
as discussed in the November 19, 2013, report of consulting
psychologist Kevin J. Edwards, Ph.D., the December 6, 2013,
report of state agency psychologist Vicki Warren, Ph.D., and
the March 29, 2014, report of state agency psychologist Robyn
Hoffman, Ph.D. The court agrees with the magistrate
judge's analysis of the RFC, and with her conclusion that
this objection is not well taken.
claimant's RFC is the most that a claimant can do despite
his or her limitations. 20 U.S.C. §404.1545(a)(1).
Disability is determined by the functional limitations
imposed by a condition, not the mere diagnosis of it.
Hill v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 560 F.App'x
547, 551 (6th Cir. 2014). In making the RFC determination,
the ALJ must evaluate all the medical evidence as well as the
claimant's testimony. Webb v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., 368 F.3d 629, 633 (6th Cir. 2004). The ALJ, not a
medical expert, ultimately determines the claimant's RFC.
Coldiron v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 391 F.App'x
435, 439 (6th Cir. 2010); 20 C.F.R.
§§404.1527(e)(2) and 404.1546(c). An ALJ's
decision to give weight to medical opinion evidence does not
require the ALJ to incorporate every restriction proposed by
the medical source. Salisbury v. Comm'r of Soc.
Sec., No. 5:11-CV-2277, 2013 WL 427733, *7 (N.D. Ohio
Feb. 1, 2013). The ALJ is not required to describe the
claimant's limitations using the exact language of those
medical sources as long as substantial evidence demonstrates
that the ALJ adequately portrayed the claimant's
limitations in the RFC. See Smith-Johnson v. Comm'r
of Soc. Sec., 579 F. App'x 426, 436 (6th Cir. 2014).
Edwards noted in his report that plaintiff had mild
impairment with new learning, and that she “may have
some difficulty with more detailed instructions.”
PAGEID 384. Dr. Edwards also concluded that plaintiff's
mental conditions resulted in moderate impairment which
“would interfere with persistence and pace[.]”
PAGEID 384. Dr. Edwards further noted that, although
plaintiff got along with coworkers, had good social skills,
and had no history of problems with supervisors, “she
likely would have an unfavorable response in groups, becoming
fearful and wanting to flee.” PAGEID 384. Dr. Edwards
also noted that during the examination, the
“essentially untreated symptoms of GAD [General Anxiety
Disorder] and Dysthemic Disorder created a loss of energy,
slow cognitive processing, [and] psychomotor retardation, and
caused emotional reactions. It is my opinion that these
symptoms would increase as perceived stress increased.”
PAGEID 384. None of these reported impairments were phrased
in terms of a specific job restriction, nor did Dr. Edwards
express the opinion that any of these impairments would
preclude plaintiff from working.
Warren concluded that plaintiff is “capable of low
stress jobs in a setting that does not require working in
tandem w/other employees” and that she could
“make simple work related decisions.” PAGEID 107.
She observed that plaintiff “remain[s] capable of
simple work in a low stress environment.” PAGEID 110.
Dr. Hoffman opined that plaintiff “is capable of
simple, repetitive tasks in a setting that does not require
working in tandem w/other employees or fast-pace or filling
large quotas.” PAGEID 133. She further observed that
plaintiff “is limited to occas'l superficial social
interactions in a less public setting” and that
plaintiff can “make simple work related decisions in a